Decorated Men: Fashioning the French Soldier, 1852-1914

TitleDecorated Men: Fashioning the French Soldier, 1852-1914
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsDavid, Alison Matthews
JournalFashion Theory
Date Published03/2003

This paper considers the fashioning of the French soldier during the second half of the nineteenth century. The author begins by revisiting scholarship on nineteenth-century male dress, then uses the glamorous cavalry officer of the Second Empire as a case study for the ambiguous gendering and fashion-plate status of a male elite. The author then follows the image of the officer after the humiliating defeat of French forces during the Franco-Prussian war and explores how the Third Republic exploited the army's continued relationship with fashion to rehabilitate its military image. Finally, she explores the material culture of the uniform and its class connotations against the backdrop of innovations in mass technologies of clothing followed by its final disappearance from the backs of real soldiers during the First World War.

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