Christopher Breward

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561216
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History


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In 1947, the Parisian couturier Christian Dior launched his celebrated New Look, a collection that offered an aspirational alternative to the fabric restrictions and low consumer expectations of post-war austerity – seemingly re-routing fashionable trends in Europe and North America in the space of a season. The diarist had unwittingly become first a witness to, and then a participant in, the mysterious process of fashion change. Suffering from a version of sartorial jet-lag, she faced an oncoming tide of novelties, fresh versions of the fashion designer's diktat, while her own wardrobe remained in another, less contemporary, time zone. She knew that she must adapt or be overtaken. Though it would be difficult to re-enact this precise scenario today or in the more distant past, it does present some generic issues concerning fashion's close relationship with novelty, change, competition, guilt, and desire that will be familiar to historians of consumption in the early modern period and the contemporary. Fashion's relation to time and space has formed a fascinating context in which to consider the development of consumerism.

Keywords: fashion; consumption; time; space; consumerism; novelty; change; competition; guilt; desire

Article.  7493 words. 

Subjects: History

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