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Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy…

Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy (1987)

by Gilles Lipovetsky

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La moda se inserta en el centro mismo de la modernidad occidental. El objetivo primero de este libro es el de reinterpretar este problema en su totalidad. ¿Cómo entender la aparición de la moda en occidente? ¿Cómo explicar la versatilidad de la elegancia? ¿Cuáles son los grandes momentos históricos, las grandes estructuras que han determinado la organización social de las apariencias?
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gilles Lipovetskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lequeu, Jean-JacquesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahood, FrankDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, CatherineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sennett, RichardForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the past few years, several social thinkers in France and Italy have confronted the reign of mass culture as largely and searchingly as possible, while we in the English-speaking world have tended to narrow this subject to violence on television, the sexual ethics of rock stars, or the vices and virtues of an urban landscape increasingly resembling Disneyland. (Foreword by Richard Sennett)
The question of fashion is not a fashionable one among intellectuals. (Introduction)
Fashion does not belong to all ages or to all civilizations: it has an identifiable starting point in history.
Primitive societies erect prohibitive barriers against the constitution of fashion, inasmuch as fashion explicitly consecrates aesthetic initiative, fancy, and human originality; even more significantly, they do so because fashion implies an order of value that exalts the present and the new, in direct opposition to the model of timeless legitimacy based on submission to a collective past.

Chapter 1: Fashion and the West: the Aristocratic Moment
Capable of softening rigidities and resistances, the fashion form is an instrument of social rationality, an invisible rationality; while it cannot be measured, it is irreplaceable for a rapid acceleration of transformations in progress for the constituion of a society equipped to face the endlessly variable requirements of the future.

Chapter IV: The Seduction of Things
It is true that consummate fashion is also at the heart of certain difficulties in social adaptation, certain more or less chronically dysfunctional aspects of the democracies. […] By exacerbating individualistic passions, consummate fashion has followed the path of indifference to the public good.

Chapter IV: The Seduction of Things
Public power must prepare for the future while taking present aspirations into account (these are necessary, moreover, in the long run, for the growth of our societies); it much find a social equilibrium between the necessities of the future and the demands of the present.

Chapter IV: The Seduction of Things
The consummate-fashion system fosters the cult of individual health and life in the here and now; it holds sacred the personal happiness of individuals and the pragmatism of attitudes; it destroys class solidarities and consciousness in favor of explicitly individualistic demands and preoccupations. The empire of seductions has been a euphoric gravedigger for the great ideologies.

Chapter VII: Meaning Carries on.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691102627, Paperback)

In a book full of playful irony and striking insights, the controversial social philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky draws on the history of fashion to demonstrate that the modern cult of appearance and superficiality actually serves the common good. Focusing on clothing, bodily deportment, sex roles, sexual practices, and political rhetoric as forms of "fashion," Lipovetsky bounds across two thousand years of history, showing how the evolution of fashion from an upper-class privilege into a vehicle of popular expression closely follows the rise of democratic values. Whereas Tocqueville feared that mass culture would create passive citizens incapable of political reasoning, Lipovetsky argues that today's mass-produced fashion offers many choices, which in turn enable consumers to become complex individuals within a consolidated, democratically educated society.

Superficiality fosters tolerance among different groups within a society, claims Lipovetsky. To analyze fashion's role in smoothing over social conflict, he abandons class analysis in favor of an inquiry into the symbolism of everyday life and the creation of ephemeral desire. Lipovetsky examines the malaise experienced by people who, because they can fulfill so many desires, lose their sense of identity. His conclusions raise disturbing questions about personal joy and anguish in modern democracy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:07 -0400)

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