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Fashion Changes

  • Date Submitted: 10/11/2010 12:30 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.7 
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In Maria Makela’s article, “The Rise and Fall of the Flapper Dress: Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Early-Twentieth-Century Discourses on German Fashion”, she argues that there is a nationalistic discourse on German fashion during World War One. Furthermore, Makela hopes to show that this discourse illustrates the degree to which Germans were disturbed by the social changes that came with the industrialization and modernization of the nation in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Lastly, the author hopes to show how this sparks the arguments of the 1920’s about the “New Women” and later Nazis opinion about fashion, gender and race.

Makela argues that there is a nationalistic discourse on German fashion during World War One. Prior to WW1, German fashion houses did not design their own line women’s clothing. Instead, Germany would copy the fashions they had seen in France and label the clothing as French. At this time in history, historian Norbert Stern explained fashion as “made for the masses rather than the individual.” Makela believes that Germany’s fashion industry was not just a focus of style and taste, but more importantly one of economic might and power. The author makes a case when she argues that this fashion industry “Was threatened when the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June of 1914 led Germany into what would become a protracted war against Russia, France, and England.” As a result, Germany was no longer able to imitate the French clothing designs. With this, Germany had to create its own clothing styles. By WW1, Makela expresses that this country came up with its new style that embraced national fashions that were in-line with a woman’s character and personality rather than clothing made for the mass public. In other words, the author makes clear that German clothing would be determined by its functionality and quality suiting women’s age, occupation and figure type compared to French clothing that just focuses on style....

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