Nothing in Itself

Nothing in Itself : Complexions of Fashion

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The author suggests that fashion today has anticipated and redefined, in the dazzle on the runway, or even in the ready-to-wear, the terms in which it is critiqued, while sometimes giving the impression that it is inseparable from critique. There is little to be said of fashion that is not somehow visible in fashion. The book looks at clothes with a fastidious eye to style, new looks, and old looks. Meanwhile, if the theatricality of fashion is belabored in cultural studies, there are other issues - recurring in history and, like the rise and fall of the hemline, approaching the metaphysical - that come with dress in its fascination-effect. As Blau sees it, this will inevitably return us to the validities, artful vanities, and deceits of appearance. No more than appearance, "nothing in itself," that fashion has substance, complex and elusive substance, is the thematic of this book, which puts another complexion on the subject, the look, and the look that incites the look, in high style, street style, classical elegance or fetishistic chic, from farthingale and corset to drop-dead glamour, power suits, waifishness, and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 176 x 246 x 22mm | 680.39g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 40 b&w photos, 12 plates, 1 index
  • 0253213339
  • 9780253213334
  • 1,735,904

Review quote

"This is a wonderful book not 'just' about fashion but modernism, postmodernity, the arts and popular culture, design and technology, biology and culturalism... And it's about how we might write cultural history for a 'posthistorical' time in which ...there's a lot of history about. Instead of merely concluding that this ought to be done, the book shows that it can be done ...Within the immediate field of 'fashion theory', I'd call it incomparable...It is bliss to read. Blau is a master of the miraculously evocative and impossibly exact phrase, and his sentence rhythms are to die for." - Meaghan Morrisshow more

About Herbert Blau

Herbert Blau is Distinguished Professor of English and Modern Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. In his career in the professional theater, he was co-founder and co-director of The Actor s Workshop of San Francisco, and co-director of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, New York. He is also author of The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto, Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point, The Audience, and To all Appearances: Ideology and Performance."show more

Table of contents

Contents: Acknowledgements Introduction: Troubling over Appearances The New Look and the Perpetual Blush Metaphysics of the Hemline: Temporality, Modernity and the Horror Vacui Dressing Up, Dressing Down: "Why do you want me to carry on?" Vicissitudes of the Look What Remains to Be Seen Notes: Indexshow more

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