Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion

Nancy J. Troy

Published by The MIT Press, 2004
ISBN 10: 0262701030 / ISBN 13: 9780262701037
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Synopsis: In Couture Culture, Nancy Troy offers a new model of how art and fashion were linked in the early twentieth century. Focusing on a leader of the French fashion industry, Paul Poiret, Troy uncovers a logic of fashion based on the tension between originality and reproduction that bears directly on art historical issues of the period. This tension lies at the heart of haute couture, which, although designed for the wealthy, was also intended to be adapted for sale in department stores and other clothing outlets that catered to a broader consumer market. Troy examines the relationships between elite and popular culture, the professional theater and the fashion show, as well as the presumed polarity between Orientalist and classical sensibilities. She shows how Poiret and other designers patronized the arts and presented themselves as artists not only to sell their individual dresses to wealthy clients but also to promote the mass production of their designs. The contradictions she uncovers suggest surprising parallels with the readymades and fashion-related work of Marcel Duchamp, who explored the questions of originality and authenticity raised by couture culture during the 1910s and 1920s.

In contrast to dominant accounts of early twentieth-century art that have dismissed fashion as superficial, fleeting, and feminized, Troy's more nuanced approach reveals conceptual structures and marketing strategies shared by modern art and fashion in these years.

From the Inside Flap: "Nancy Troy brilliantly demonstrates the parallels and connections that existed between the spheres of high art and haute couture during the years around the First World War. Arguing that avant-garde art was as much subject to the 'logic of fashion' as dress, she transforms our understanding of early twentieth-century Parisian visual culture."
--Tag Gronberg, School of History of Art, Film and Visual Culture , Birkbeck College, University of London

"This captivating study traces the ways in which early twentieth-century fashion designers negotiated the contradiction between reverence for the original and the need for mass produced copies. Troy deftly shows how the designers' elaborate promotional and legal strategies paralleled contemporary moves in the art world. In a refreshing challenge to traditional disciplinary limits, this book exposes deeper links between the clothing industry and the art market."
--Mark Wigley, Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, and author of *White Walls: Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture*

"In Couture Culture, Nancy Troy's deeply researched and eloquently argued encounter between modern art and fashion, the 'Readymade' meets the 'ready-to-wear.' The book sheds dazzling new light on the 'logic of fashion' and its paradoxical transformation of originals into copies; works of art into works of industry and back again."
--Anne Friedberg, Program in Film Studies and Gradute Program in Visual Studies, University of California at Irvine

"Troy has written a stimulating account of an important episode in the history of early 20th-century haute couture: fashion designer Paul Poiret's (ultimately) futile attempt to secure a place for himself at the heart of modern culture. Torn between the craft traditions of France and the American mass market, Poiret becomes an exemplary figure in Troy's study. Her excellent research and intelligent analysis yield some fascinating results, not the least of which is a convincing new context for Marcel Duchamp's Readymades. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in high modernism and its discontents."
--Kenneth Silver, Professor of Fine Arts, New York University

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Title: Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and ...
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: 2004
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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