Gender and Consumer Culture in France from the Late 1800’s Through the 1920’s

1332 WordsMay 10, 20116 Pages
Today when consumer culture in France is thought of the first thing that come to mind is high end clothing, fancy jewelry, expensive boutiques, and who could forget Louis Vuitton. The consumer culture of today in France is geared towards high-style, well dressed women but this was not always the case. This culture has been many years coming. Many changes in this consumer culture came about in the time periods surrounding World War I. In this essay I will be tracing the change in women in the consumer culture in France in the late 1800’s to through the 1920’s, using the works of Mary Louise Roberts Samson and Delilah Revisited: The Politics of Woman’s Fashion in 1920’s France, and Judith G. Coffin’s Credit, Consumption, and Images of…show more content…
When men went off to war women had to step into formally male dominated jobs and responsibilities. This blurring of gender roles led to a significant change in women and women’s fashion. Women cut their hair short and changed their style of dress to exemplify these new active roles in the public sphere. Historians see “short hair and a looser, more carefree style of clothing as a reflection of a new freedom of movement women enjoyed in both the professional and social circles that was itself brought about by the war.”(Roberts 662) Women began to cut their hair short in a bob. This fashion trend was rumored to be started by Coco Chanel, she chopped off her long locks in 1916. This bobbed short hair cut was called “à la Jeanne d’Arc” after the short hair of Joan of Arc. Women who wore this hair style were thought of as a new kind of woman. These women were associated with modernity, independence, and style (Roberts 659). Women no long would let their hair grow long and wrap it in a tight bun, instead they ventured out into the public sphere of the consumer world to get their hair done by a hair dresser. Women of this period saw the hair cut as “a gesture of independence; a personal venture” (Roberts 662). This alludes to the fact that women saw their new style not only as a fashion statement but as a symbol of their new found power and place in the public consumer sphere. This change in hair style did not come without its critics. Many
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