• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

In this book, one of the most accomplished and thoughtful cultural commentators of the day, considers the contradictory nature of cultural relations. Elizabeth Wilson explores these themes through an examination of fashion, feminism, consumer culture, representation and postmodernism. Debates within feminism on the nature and effects of pornography are used to illustrate a particular kind of cultural contradiction. Wilson recognizes that postmodernism permitted the reappropriation of subjects that were not previously considered worthy of attention, or opposed to the idea of emancipation, chief among these was fashion. She shows that the association of an interest in this culturally significant subject with a revisionist project raises doubt

These New Components of the Spectacle: Fashion and Postmodernism
These new components of the spectacle: Fashion and postmodernism

Traditionally, fashion came at the bottom of the hierarchy of academic study, dismissed – and not only by intellectuals – as trivial and unworthy of serious discussion. It was associated with the body and therefore assessed as low and degraded; it was associated with women and therefore dismissed as frivolous; it was associated with capitalism and therefore denounced as exploitative; it was associated, especially in utopian socialist thought, with inequality, ugliness and unhealthiness and therefore rejected on all three grounds. For over a century feminists in particular disavowed an interest in dress because it seemed incompatible with their political project.

My interest in fashion is not simply a postmodern ...

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