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The Paris Commune Re(ad)dressed in the Age of the Yellow Vest Protests

Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 21, 2019. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
McMurtry Building, Room 350
Workshop: 
Reframing Fashion Studies: Performance, Gender, and the Body
Meeting Description: 

This talk analyzes a contemporary French men’s clothing line that calls itself “Commune de Paris 1871” (CDP) and markets expensive clothing to trend-conscious “hipster” shoppers worldwide.  Although its goals are opposite to those of the actual nineteenth-century Commune, CDP brands itself as a promoter of some of the same core principles of the civil uprising of 1871 and in so doing commodifies protest history.  This analysis contrasts CDP with the contemporary gilets jaunes (Yellow Vest) demonstrations, which began in 2018 and represent widespread dissent against economic inequalities in France as well as clothing’s powerful role in galvanizing public insurrection.

Heidi Brevik-Zender is associate professor of French and comparative literature at the University of California, Riverside.  She is author of the book Fashioning Spaces: Mode and Modernity in Late-Nineteenth-Century Paris (2015) and editor of the volume Fashion, Modernity, and Materiality in France: From Rousseau to Art Deco (2018). Forthcoming publications include an article on French representations of the fashioned bodies of the queens of Thailand over the longue durée, a book chapter examining interior spaces in the avant-garde photographs of the Countess de Castiglione, and an article which examines the commodification of insurrectionary history in a contemporary Parisian menswear company against the backdrop of the protests of the gilets jaunes (from which today’s presentation is drawn). Her current book project, supported by a U.K. Fulbright Visiting Professorship to Scotland in 2017-2018, is on architecture and gender in France in the late nineteenth century.

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