The Fashion System

The Fashion System

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In his consideration of the language of the fashion magazine--the structural analysis of descriptions of women's clothing by writers about fashion--Barthes gives us a brief history of semiology. At the same time, he identifies economics as the underlying reason for the luxuriant prose of the fashion magazine: "Calculating, industrial society is obliged to form consumers who don't calculate; if clothing's producers and consumers had the same consciousness, clothing would be bought (and produced) only at the very slow rate of its dilapidation."

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  • Paperback | 351 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 430.91g
  • University of California Press
  • BerkerleyUnited States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0520071778
  • 9780520071773
  • 119,099

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Review quote

"Barthes's treatment of fashion in "The Fashion System is his most elaborate attempt to reveal the little worlds of meaning enclosed in each nuance of social life. . . . In a magisterial effort that has been superbly translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard, Barthes certainly draws our attention to some fascinating aspects of fashion. . . . One is able to hear the voice of a sensitive and sensible critic who was alive to the symbolic vitality of the world."--Flint Schier, "New York Times Book Review

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Back cover copy

The object of this inquiry is the structural analysis of women's clothing as currently described by Fashion magazines: its method was originally inspired by the general science of signs postulated by Saussure under the name semiology.

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About Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes was born in 1915 and studied French literature and classics at the University of Paris. After teaching French at universities in Romania and Egypt, he joined the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, where he devoted himself to research in sociology and lexicology. He was a professor of the College de France until his death in 1980.

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