Roland Barthes, widely regarded as one of the most subtle and perceptive critics of the 20th Century, was particularly fascinated by fashion and clothing. The Language of Fashion brings together all Barthes' untranslated writings on fashion.The Language of Fashion presents a set of remarkable essays, revealing the breadth and insight of Barthes' long engagement with the history of clothes. The essays range from closely argued essays laying down the foundations for a structural and semiological analysis of clothing to a critical analysis of the significance of gemstones and jewellery, from an exploration of how the contrasting styles of Courrges and Chanel replayed the clash between ancient and modern to a discussion of the meaning of hippy style in Morocco, and from the nature of desire to the role of the dandy and colour in fashion.Constantly questioning, always changing, Barthes' ideas about clothes and fashion remain to provoke another generation of readers seeking to understand not only the culture of fashion but the fashion of culture.
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Roland Barthes changed the way a generation read. A cultural commentator before his time, his careful if playful analysis of texts revolutionised the way we comprehend cultural products. Both critic and literary essayist, his writings continue to provoke. His best known work includes Mythologies, Camera Lucida, Image-Music-Text, The Empire of Signs, A Lover's Discourse, Writing Degree Zero, S/Z and The Fashion System. Translated by Andy Stafford, Senior Lecturer in French Studies, University of Leeds and edited by Andy Stafford and Michael Carter, Department of Art History and Theory, University of Sydney.From Publishers Weekly:
As part of his edgy 1960s cultural criticism, French sociologist Barthes wrote extensively on fashion, culminating in The Fashion System. British academics Stafford and Michael Carter have assembled a smattering of the early interdisciplinary essays that haven't been translated before, originally published in publications as diverse as Revue Française de Sociologie and Marie Claire. The essays reveal the chronological development of Barthes's thinking, from 1957 to 1969, which essentially aimed to apply Saussure's semiology to clothing forms to show how "the signifying function of dress makes it a total social object." In the early "History and Sociology of Clothing," for example, Barthes equates the Saussurian linguistics distinctions "langue" and "parole" to fashion; that is, "langue" is dress, while "parole" is the act of getting dressed. "Language and Clothing" delves into fashion history, extracting the nugget that men's current anti-dandyist style derives from the austerity of Quaker dress. "From Gemstones to Jewellery" is one of the few essays for lay readers, as is a consideration of classic versus modern style entitled "The Contest Between Chanel and Courrèges." There's a lot of padding and explication in this slender volume, necessary to navigate Barthes's fairly difficult system. (Apr. 5)
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