The fashion revolution: the 'long' eighteenth century

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The Fashion History Reader: Global Perspectives, 2010, 1, pp. 173 - 178
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The so~ca!led \\ong' eighteenth century, the period spanning from the end of the seventeenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century, has in recent decades been seen as pivotal to the history of fashion. This was not the case just a generation ago. Research tended to concentrate either on the court and elite dress of the period ranging from the Renaissance to the reign of Louis XIV 0643-1715) (characterised by conspicuous consumption and the emergence of a 'civilised' society of mannerS and etiquette) or on the bourgeois ascendancy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (accompanied instead by mass production and largescale distribution as in the case of department and chain stores). The eighteenth century sat as a 'difficult' period/ sandwiched between two areas of research considered of much higher importance in the history of fashion and not seeming to connect to theories and notions of modernity expressed in the writings of, say, Walter Benjamin and Georg Simmel, whose work revolved around nineteenth-century cultural patterns.
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