PARIS FASHION HISTORIES & GEOGRAPHIES (CM4021)

The notion of Paris as “the global fashion capital “is so popular that it became a self-perpetuating myth alongside its mythical figure of La Parisienne. According to this idea, Paris is the birthplace and the capital of fashion and is still today the capital of haute couture, of elegance, of chic and of luxury. In part one of the course, through readings, case studies and visits of certain key sites in Paris (or online visits), students will understand how the fashion industry has shaped –and continues to shape –the city of Paris, from textile factories during the 17th century within Paris, to the emergence of luxury good shops (18th century), of department stores (19th century), of couture houses (19th-20th centuries), of ready-to-wear and fast fashion shops and of luxury flagships during the 21st century). While giving students tools to understand the development of Paris as a “fashion capital” this course also aims to unpack the discursive construction of Paris as the center of the fashion world. Going beyond this general idea of “Paris, capital of fashion”, this course will have a critical approach of the sociological and construction of Paris as the center of the fashion world and question how the story has been told, what was included and what left out. It will address the different levels of the industry, the high and low, the everyday and haute couture, the grand couturier and the migrant garment workers, the Chanel workshop on Avenue Montaigne and the fast fashion workshops in Aubervilliers, the luxury department stores and the flea markets. Discussions in class will thus question the hierarchy in the Paris fashion industry and show that behind the catchy idea of “Parisian fashion”, a more complex eco-system is at stake, involving discussions about class, race and gender in the fashion industry. In taking this class, students come to understand that Paris is not the place of a unique kind of fashion, namely the place of high fashion for wealthy clients, as it is widely advertised in the media and forged in the collective imaginary, but that Paris is constituted by different kind of fashion spaces which correspond to different kind of systems of clothes production and consumption: haute couture and ready-to-wear in the center of Paris, fast fashion, retail and wholesale in the suburbs of Paris. This heterogeneous geography corresponds further to different type of labor force, consumers, and representations, allowing to de-hierarchized, de-centralized the geographies of Parisian fashion.

Code: 
CM4021
Name: 
PARIS FASHION HISTORIES & GEOGRAPHIES
Discipline: 
CM (Communications)
Type: 
Regular
Level: 
Undergraduate
Credits: 
4
Can be taken twice for credit?: 
No
Pre-requisites: 
College Level=Senior
Co-requisites: 
None