Alexis Romano: Prêt-à-Porter, Paris, and Women, 1950s-1960s

This is an Archive of a Past Event

This talk discusses aspects of Romano’s forthcoming book, Prêt-à-Porter, Paris and Women: A Cultural Study of Readymade Dress, 1945-1968 (Bloomsbury). The first critical study of French ready-to-wear, it traces the industry’s development in relation to the country’s postwar modernization and shifting conceptions of fashion, modernity, and national identity. Most importantly, it connects these notions to women’s lives via their experience of readymade dress. The pages of the fashion press, which indicate how ideas were constructed by the industry and imagemakers, and interpreted by readers, is a lens onto this experience. This is the context in which Alexis will explore, in this talk, shifting representations of bodies in space across the period spanning the 1950s and 1960s. Newly enfranchised at the start of this timeframe, women’s place and roles were re-forming, and ambiguous. One narrative is the movement between productive and fragmented identities and bodies, and modernity to postmodernity, with ready-to-wear as a signifying element.

Alexis Romano is The Gerald and Mary Ellen Ritter Memorial Fund Curatorial Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. She also teaches dress history and theory at Parsons and New York City College of Technology (CUNY). Alexis received MAs from the Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne and the Bard Graduate Center, and a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. In 2013, she co-founded the London-based Fashion Research Network, a platform for interdisciplinary researchers. 2021 publications include “Fashion, Plastic and Myths in Color” (Photography and Culture); “La Mode et La Vie de Paris, 1955-1967” (Vogue Paris Cent Ans); and her first book, Prêt-à-Porter, Paris and Women: A Cultural Study of Readymade Dress, 1945-1968 (Bloomsbury). They illustrate her approach to 20th-century dress, and interests in its everyday and subjective aspects, photographic imagery, ready-made design culture and women’s history. Her current research explores women’s experience of making and wearing dress in the 1970s through the cross-analysis of object, image, and oral history.

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