The frivolity essential

Monneyron, Frédéric, tatting essential. Clothing and fashion, Puf, Quadridge, 2001 (1st edition), 2008

The garment is the subject of a discharge, symptomatic : while it differentiates it from the more obviously man of the animal, distinguished men among themselves, or identifies an era, it has been little studied. Object considered to be futile, superficial, its role in the construction of identities, whether individual or social is under-estimated. If one admits that one can read the mood of an era through its literature, its cinema or, generally, by the whole of his artistic creations, why does the read it not for its clothes ? to request the author’s prior study. Given that the garment maintains a more direct connection with the body, and relates to a wider audience, its heuristic value promises to be even greater.

Writing on the clothing, as well as the offers Frédéric Monneyron in this test therefore requires the overthrow of the traditional attitude to the garment, this thing is frivolous, mere deceptive appearance… The symposium, The Garment that the author organized at the château de Cerisy in July 1998 has opened the way to such a turnaround. The book which we propose to realize The frivolity essential part of the continuation of this conference, and seeks to remedy the lack of a “theory and sociological practice in the garment and fashion” (p 10) The book intends to answer a number of questions : how does the adoption of such or such a garment can change a behavior or to determine an identity ? What is the social function of fashion ? Frédéric Monneyron answers from the exploitation of a material iconography. It is, however, never presented as such, nor explained, what we actually classify the book in the essay category.

The first chapter “Of the garment as an anticipation of social” strives to demonstrate the importance of the garment : “I would like, in fact I use to sketch that, not only is the clothing does not follow the history, but position somewhat iconoclastic that it precedes ; that many of our behaviors are determined by him. (p17) We can establish the primacy of the garment, that on a reversal of the whole tradition of western philosophical, for which the essence of man is under the seem. Against the idea that the garment is an appearance accessory and often misleading, Frédéric Monneyron argues that the garment represents “a model of social determinant of behaviours and ways of being” (p 19) The most obvious examples made by the author are those of the identity and function of sexual clothing. The sexual dimorphism of the garment contributes to the definition of the identity of feminine and masculine, that does not lack to emphasize the mere dandyism, which is a questioning of the system of dress and the dimorphism on which he is sitting.

Chapter three, “space and time” is not less interesting. The author provides an analysis of how stimulating the role of the garment ethnic, borrowing clothing from one civilization to another. On the one hand, these garments so-called ethnic tell us about the look that a company focuses on different cultures, they say the desire to get out of the western managers, a “revolt against the values of the western world” (p 60). The introduction by Pierre Cardin in 1968 in the locker room, western part of the jacket collar Mao is one example, among others, analyzed page 61 and following. Chapter four, “gender and sexuality” focuses on the issue of sexual dimorphism, to the recomposition of the roles of sex, symbolized by the adoption of the trousers or the jacket of a man by women or by the use of elements of the locker room women by men. The last three chapters of the book focus on three designers and bring their creations to their era : Yves Saint-Laurent in the seventies, Jean-Paul Gaultier for the years four-twenty, and finally Christian Lacroix for the years four-twenty-ten.

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