Accessorizing the Body
Habits of Being I
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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The four-volume English-language series Habits of Being extracts more than forty of thebest essays from the ongoing editions of Abito e Identità: Ricerche di storia letteraria e cul-turale, edited by Cristina Giorcelli and published since 1995 by Edizioni Associate (vol-umes 1–3) and Ila Palma Press (volumes 4–10) of Rome, Italy, augmenting these Italianessays with a few newly commissioned pieces and with examples of work by contempo-...
Clothing, Dress, Fashion: An Arcade
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...pearls so big that your ears can scarcely bear the weight of them.A complete description of people’s costumes is apt to be tedious, but as in stories the first thing that is said about the characters is invariably what they wore, I shall Man was an animal compounded of two dresses, the natural and the celestial suit,which were the body and the soul; that the soul was the outward, and the body ...
Introduction: ACCESSORIZING THE MODERN(IST) BODY
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In the words of St. Anselm, “the habit does not make the monk,” and ever since, the oldadage of not being able to judge a book by its cover has provided consolation for thosewhose appearance did not fully represent their being.1 Or else this adage has been usedas a deterrent for those who considered creating a diƒerent being by changing their ap-pearance. Indeed, the saying also became a standard warning used by well-intentioned...
1 No Frills, No-Body, Nobody
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The antinaturalistic origin of clothing (which is not a second skin, because it can be puton and taken oƒ ) makes it one of the most significant features of the “symbolic treat-ment” necessary for the humanization of the living body. Once reduced to an essential-ity that places it in competition with the skin covering the body, often considered the“first clothing” provided by nature, dress runs the risk of betraying its own vocation from...
2 The Cult of Femininity
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I had the good luck and pleasure to speak with Micol Fontana: my good luck because, atthe age of ninety-four, she is still vivacious, energetic, and a volcano of initiatives—allfeasible; a pleasure because through her words, colorful and immediate, she relives a hu-man world and a city, Rome, in all its fabulous contours, those of the mythical 1950s and1960s, when, after the horror and devastation of the war, the Eternal City blossomed...
3 Fashion’s Model Bodies: A Genealogy
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At first there were dolls. A wooden mannequin—perhaps the most ancient in history—was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. France’s Queen Marie Antoinette used to send hermother and sisters back in Austria puppets wearing the latest Paris fashions. In the nine-teenth century, fashion dolls traveled as far as India so that colonial o~cers’ wives mighthave a three-dimensional preview of the dresses they would be ordering from their Lon-...
4 Wearing the Body over the Dress: SONIA DELAUNAY'S FASHIONABLE CLOTHES
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In Genesis, Adam’s and Eve’s bodies epitomize innocence and truth. According to thebiblical narrative, after God created them “they were both naked, the man and his wife,and were not ashamed” (2:25). The statement seems both paradoxical and anachronis-tic: while it employs the logic of hysteron proteron, in which the eƒect replaces the cause,it also projects a sentiment (shame) that under the circumstances they could not then...
5 Futurist Accessories
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...“The Futurist hat shall be asymmetrical and in aggressive, festive colours. Futurist shoesshall be dynamic, each of a diƒerent shape and colour.”1 “The Futurist tie, an anti-tie ofhard-wearing, shiny, lightweight metal, . . . fully reflects the sun and the blue skies thatenrich us as Italians, banishing the melancholy pessimistic look from the breasts of ourmenfolk.”2 In various manifestos, the Futurists proclaimed a revolution in accessories,...
6 Coco, Zelda, Sara, Daisy, and Nicole: ACCESSORIES FOR NEW WAYS OF BEING A WOMAN
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There are certain periods (quite rare, indeed) when the so-called addendum of acces-sories do more than reflect shifts in fashion, when they do more than define an era’s deep-est desires and achievements, when they do an exceptional thing by actually creating thesocial and cultural milieu. This is not a matter of a single item being used to adorn awoman’s costume; it involves a highly charged cluster of visible manifestations of inner...
7 Precious Objects: LAURA RIDING, HER TIARA, AND THE PETRARCHAN MUSE
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Unlike many women poets who subvert the Petrarchan male poet–woman muse dy-namic by writing poems in which the authorial voice is female and the “inspiration”male, American poet Laura Riding collapses the entire poetic subject-object structure bydepicting herself as both subject and object, poet and muse. In this way, she rejects thesystem of domination present in the traditional Petrarchan model. Riding’s decision to...
8 Spanish Women’s Clothing during the Long Post–Civil War Period
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Women’s clothes played an important role in Spain during the Civil War (1936–39),which was so dominated by irreducible political, cultural, and symbolic polarizationsthat dress too became a sign of dichotomy, a way to show which side you were on. Forthe Francoists, the “vestir cristiano” (the Christian way of dressing) became an impor-tant stimulus to recover the traditional feminine role from Republican emancipation....
9 The Yellow Star Accessorized: IRONIC DISCOURSE IN FATELESSNESS BY IMRE KERTÉSZ
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The application of visible stigmas (or, more mildly, distinctive signs) is a time-honoredpractice in all kinds of societies for a large variety of often despicable reasons and stilllingers on as one of the favorite pastimes of what is known as human civilization. Thedesigns and the aims may vary, but the impulse has lost none of its old momentum.1On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery...
10 Terra Divisa/Terra Divina: (T/E/A/R)
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Terra Divisa/Terra Divina: (T/E/A/R), referring to the Scottish/English “DebatableLands,” is bisected by conflict on the diagonal: brown and green for the earth and its cy-cles of rest and renewal or, more violently, death and rebirth. I used lettering from Scotsand English children’s samplers. That these are made by children and now collected byadults adds to the conflictual status of “outsider” or “naïve” art....
11 Black Hattitude
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A hat heightens the body, but it also elevates the soul. Especially elevating is a cocked haton a man or woman with attitude. You have seen them: Black men with a swagger intheir step, a hat broke at an outrageous angle, tilted like a landscape of a world about tofall oƒ its axis, ambling down the street like they own it, even if they haven’t a quarter intheir pockets. Yes, it is a performance, but it is also a tightrope act, balancing deficits and...
12 Barbara Stanwyck’s Anklet: THE OTHER SHOE
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Why, from Karl Marx and Vincent Van Gogh in the nineteenth century through MartinHeidegger, Charlie Chaplin, and Walker Evans in the twentieth, have men tracked aes-thetic value, social standing, and the meaning of labor through the boots of workers,while women, following Sigmund Freud’s consideration of the shoe as fetish object, haveunderstood shoes to signal freedom and constraint—at once powerful symbols of mo-...
13 The Cinematic Jewel: FETISHIZING THE GOODS
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Jewels in film are multivalent narrative devices, some of the most intense metaphors ofits narrative structure. Think about classic comedies where jewels are the happy sourceof many plots: for instance Trouble in Paradise (1932), one of the sophisticated comediesthat better characterize the so-called Lubitsch touch. The story unfolds between Veniceand Paris, two of the classic destinations of American tourism: an international gentle-...
14 Enchanted Sandals: ITALIAN SHOES AND THE POST–WORLD WAR II INTERNATIONAL SCENE
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In an essay on women’s footwear, Italo Calvino stresses that in order to appreciate theformal quality of a shoe, we must examine it from the ground upward:its form (its means and end) is determined by the need to place both heel and toe firmlyon the ground and at the same time, lift them up, detaching them from and posing re-sistance to the dust, dirt, or debris lying beneath. This is why its streamlined shape,...
Conclusion: IN CLOSING/CLOSE CLOTHING
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On December 14, 2008, Muntader al-Zaidi, a twenty-eight-year-old Iraqi journalist in at-tendance at then president George W. Bush’s “farewell” visit to the nation he had invadedfive years before, hurled first one then the other of his shoes—black leather oxfords, tobe exact—almost hitting his target both times. In stocking feet, he was wrestled to theground, arrested, and tortured, he claims, for the subsequent year of his imprisonment....
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011