The Rise of Fashion: A Reader

By Daniel Leonhard Purdy | Go to book overview
Save to active project

“Bourgeois Dress” (1912)

EDUARD FUCHS

At the turn of the century, Eduard Fuchs was famous for his artful books on fashion history as well as for his extensive collections of caricatures. He elevated collecting to an intellectual endeavor that sought to draw serious political implications from a lifetime obsession. A journalist as well as an engaged socialist, Fuchs attempted to bridge the gap between popular culture and political history by interpreting fashion images in relation to the political and economic forces that shape all social relations. He tried to avoid falling into the trap of a reductive historical materialism that automatically interpreted culture as a mere reflection of more fundamental economic conflicts. The connection between the history of capitalism and everyday life was not so simple that it could always readily explain popular culture as an ideology that bluntly represented the interests of a ruling class; nevertheless, Fuchs saw the rise of capitalism as the most important development in the modern era. This concerted effort to develop a subtle and nuanced account of mass culture while holding to a materialist economic theory of history impressed Marxist critics such as Walter Benjamin even if it helped ostracize him from the Social Democratic Party. If the name Eduard Fuchs is recognized today, it is indeed because Walter Benjamin wrote an essay on Fuchs, praising his work as a collector while pointing out the political dangers of an all-too simple belief in historical necessity. According to Benjamin, Fuchs's appreciation of mass culture fleshed out and thereby gave a sense of contingency to the materialist history that had become a dogma to socialists at the beginning of the twentieth century.

If the modern era marks the triumph of the bourgeoisie, Fuchs understood that the members of that class sought to exemplify their position and values in their clothes. Fashion was a medium for communicating values, yet it had its own traditions; it could not be yoked to the conventions of other systems of communication. Class conflict played itself out differently in fashion than in politics. In this chapter taken from his three-volume history of

-317-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rise of Fashion: A Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 357

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?