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Fashioning Spaces

Fashioning Spaces: Mode and Modernity in Late-Nineteenth-Century Paris

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Fashioning Spaces
    Book Description:

    InFashioning Spaces, Heidi Brevik-Zender argues that in the years between 1870 and 1900 the chroniclers of Parisian modernity depicted the urban landscape not just in public settings such as boulevards and parks but also in "dislocations," spaces where the public and the intimate overlapped in provocative and subversive ways. Stairwells, theatre foyers, dressmakers' studios, and dressing rooms were in-between places that have long been overlooked but were actually marked as indisputably modern through their connections with high fashion.Fashioning Spacesengages with and thinks beyond the work of critics Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin to arrive at new readings of the French capital.

    Examining literature by Zola, Maupassant, Rachilde, and others, as well as paintings, architecture, and the fashionable garments worn by both men and women, Brevik-Zender crafts a compelling and innovative account of how fashion was appropriated as a way of writing about the complexities of modernity infin-de-siècleParis.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6980-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-26)

    Poised to lift her bow, statuesque and elegant in a white and yellow dress, a violinist waits patiently for the room to fall quiet. Posh society, recognizable by its formal gowns and crisp black and white suits, suggests the scene is highly fashionable, a standing-room-only event not to be missed. For French painter James (né Jacques-Joseph) Tissot (1836–1902), the salon is a site of sartorial excess. Lace skirts spill across the floor, flounced chiffon abounds, coloured ribbons trail down necks and backs, all highlighted through Tissot’s fastidious attention to details of clothing. Concert attendees, as though displaced in some...

  6. Part One: The Staircase

    • 1 Fashioning the Commune Barricade: Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames
      (pp. 29-68)

      It was 5 January 1875, the highly anticipated date of the most fashionable event of the season in Paris. After fifteen years of construction and numerous delays, Charles Garnier’s gilded rococo opera house, a belated homage to the opulent aesthetic of the recently deposed Second Empire of Napoléon III, was finally to be celebrated that night with a gala opening. Four days later the city remained abuzz, with public interest in the Opéra’s debut remaining so high that the editors ofLe Monde Illustréelected to devote an entire special issue to coverage of the spectacular event. According to reporter...

    • 2 Ups and Downs, Surface and Spectacle: Rachilde, Maupassant, and Daudet
      (pp. 69-106)

      As any reader of her novels quickly surmises, the intersection of fashion and gender expression was a preoccupation for the decadent writer Rachilde (1860–1953). The cross-dressing protagonists of her well-studiedMonsieur Vénus(1884) are perhaps the most famous of her subversively dressed characters, but such figures are equally present across the many works that Rachilde penned in the last two decades of the century. An author who began her career in Paris writing for the fashion press, Rachilde frequently played with the transformative qualities of clothing, often drawing on it to problematize categories of gender rather than reinforcing them...

  7. Part Two: The Antechamber

    • 3 Waiting for Change: Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames and Nana
      (pp. 109-142)

      Studies of Paris during the Third Republic typically view the period through the lens of various forms of dynamic change, transformation, growth, and motion.¹ Rather in contrast, then, this chapter on the antechamber dislocation begins by evoking the notion of an opposite force: waiting. Waiting is, perhaps, not the intended subject matter of Edgar Degas’s 1873 paintingL’Absinthe, nor does the image depict a proper antechamber, as an early version of the title,Dans un café, or “In a café,” would assert. On the other hand, Degas’s melancholy representation of two urban dwellers seated side-by-side on a café bench is...

    • 4 Maupassant, Transformation, and the Unexotic Exotic
      (pp. 143-174)

      Dresses with interchangeable bodices are more in demand than ever, and this is understandable; they assist, without inconvenience, with no waste of time, in completely transforming an outfit. So, let us say that a lady went out with a black taffeta dress with a triple skirt or one with three flounces, with a winter bodice, very high-necked, very warm; upon returning home, she finds company that she did not expect; she must immediately preside over dinner or go to a show; in two minutes, she has removed her hat, replaced it with a little hair accessory, made of a fringe...

  8. Part Three: The Fashion Atelier

    • 5 Places and Spaces of Haute Couture: Feydeau’s Tailleur pour dames and Zola’s La Curée
      (pp. 177-224)

      Félicien Rops’s watercolour,Le Muscle du grand couturierorThe Muscle of the Great Designer, a provocative image of a tailor on one knee measuring a nearly fully undressed woman, signals a rising interest in a new urban space of late-nineteenth-century modernity that was linked to the emergence of thegrand couturier, a figure who would come to dominate both the world of high fashion and representations of it (see figure 5.1). I call this space the “fashion atelier” and define it as a location in which some manner of fashion creation occurs. The fashion atelier appears in texts of...

    • 6 A Woman’s Work(space): Dressmaking Ateliers in Huysmans’s En Ménage and Rachilde’s Late-Century Novels
      (pp. 225-269)

      Among the many remarkable garments in the archives of Le Musée Galliera, Paris’s museum of historic and contemporary fashions, there is an especially noteworthy specimen: a chocolate-coloured ladies’ dress jacket, hand-embroidered with a rich pastel plant motif of pink blossoms, shimmery yellow flowers and graceful green leafy stems (see figure 6.1).

      A stunning example of haute couture finery, the coat well reflects the curved bustle and torso-hugging style that came into favour during the early decades of the Third Republic. Indeed, as explained in the catalogue notes of an exhibition held at the Grand Trianon in Versailles in 2011, the...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 270-276)

    To write a book with the word “modernity” in its title is to enter into a vast scholarly arena, one that has already produced countless volumes of rich inquiry and, if trends in academic publishing are to be believed, seems likely to find itself sustained into the future.¹ The wish, at least for this author, is to have contributed meaningfully to a corner of this wide-ranging discussion. At this juncture, then, one might ask, hasFashioning Spacesadvanced our current conception of modernity and, if so, how? Will the reader arriving at these final pages have gleaned new insights about...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 277-344)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 345-358)
  12. Index
    (pp. 359-363)