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The Fashion System

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In his consideration of the language of the fashion magazine—the structural analysis of descriptions of women's clothing by writers about fashion—Barthes gives us a brief history of semiology. At the same time, he identifies economics as the underlying reason for the luxuriant prose of the fashion magazine: "Calculating, industrial society is obliged to form consumers who ...more
Paperback, 351 pages
Published July 25th 1990 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 1967)
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3.57  · 
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 ·  248 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
A totally insane, wacky, uber-smart, poetic, at times hard to read, incredibly beautiful, slightly eccentric reading of the world of fashion through the eyes of one of the great readers as well as writer Roland Barthes. I want to give this book five stars, but four makes it more mysterious for some reason or another. Yet probably the best book that tells you how to read inbetween the words and 'image' of fashion.
Kevin Karpiak
Jul 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fashionistas and ideologists
Shelves: french-theory
I have no idea why nobody reads barthes anymore in anthropology. He's prettier than Foucault, less obtuse than Levi-Strauss and more current than Benjamin.

I might one day teach this in a course on ethnographic method, if only to piss off the students.

Thesis: Whatever fashion photography is, it is not the article of clothing. Whatever fashion writing is, it is neither the article of clothing nor the photograph. What, then, is description?
May 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
I read this while doing research for my senior thesis and the arguments and ideas are thoughtful and insightful. My only issue with it is that it's almost impenetrable to anyone who might want to understand the ideas presented withouth having advanced degrees. I know plenty of people who would love this book but I wouldn't recommend it because I think it's a tough read. Well worth it if you can get through it, but to an average person who might actually enjoy it, it's a struggle.
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
LOVE LOVE LOVE! It has a dry technicality that gives it an odd beauty. Much of the same meditations on surfaces, voids, and writing as in "Mythologies," but fewer exclamation points and more to the point. Oh, and it's also all about clothes.
A Templeton
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: written-reviews
Semiotics is dry but the rewards of this book were seeing this long strong theory elaborated then put into praxis in some of these punchy little essays for Marie Claire etc. Barthes arguments on the dandy as an ephemeral moment - destroyed - by fashion are pretty apt and hearing him take down hippies as a result of all this work was perhaps a delight. Definitely the essay 'From Gemstones to Jewellery' was the most insightful for me and I think incapsulates all this work about meaning in clothing ...more
Luiza Andrade
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It doesn't matter how many times you read this book, it'll always be difficult. Whether it's for the writing, or for the ideas. It feels a bit outdated, obviously, but it's definitely a must-read for fashion students.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un classico libro sulla moda. Molto tecnico, in alcuni punti, specialistico. Ma un utile strumento per barcamenarsi in un mondo che è tutt'altro che frivolo
Apr 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-theory
Using as his source French fashion magazines from 1958 and 1959, Barthes "reads" clothing to determine its system of meaning. "The magazine as a machine that makes fashion" (51) is indisputable now (and was it ever in doubt by those in the industry?), but in 1967 when this book was first published it had the whiff of revolution about it. Doesn't take very many pages before you're into doctoral-level semiology--but what would you expect from the founder of the study of signs? That makes this a hi ...more
Clément Bénech
Pas mon préféré de Barthes. Mais ça reste Barthes, sa clairvoyance excessive, presque maladive. Esprit de système et œil perçant. La mode est le cadet de mes soucis, mais m'intéresse la manière dont on en parle et ce qu'elle révèle éventuellement. Malheureusement, je trouve que le système d'analyse construit par Barthes et son architecture complexes ne sont pas des plus féconds, et que ses analyses les plus passionnantes sont toujours les plus dilettantes. Plutôt le Barthes badin des Mythologies ...more
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
WARNING. I'v read The Fashion System and thought The Language of Fashion was just an updated version of it (Barthes uses the terms langue and system interexchangably, and language seems to me like a nicer term). ERROR; they're two different books or rather The Fashion System is a book and The Language of Fashion seems to be a collection of essays. Sigh. As if Barthes wasn't confusing enough. Brilliant, but also French.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: filosofia
Apesar de ser considerado, por ser um conjunto de textos no formato de coletânea do que não foi organizado pelo autor em vida, são ensaios sobre moda, imagem (cinema, publicidade) que indico aos amigos que querem entender como ler o que está acontecendo no mundo agora. Leitura deliciosa.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
strange and difficult to read... a nice attempt at explaining fashion that I personaly found unsuccesful. A must-read anyway for all fashion designers.
Dec 06, 2007 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fashion-history
Really interesting subject (obviously I think so), but virtually impenetrable language.
Tracey Duncan
Aug 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
not what you think it is.
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Clément Bénech
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Goodreads Librari...: The Fashion System and The Language of Fashion 3 10 Aug 30, 2018 11:12AM  

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Roland Gérard Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, design theory, anthropology, and post-structuralism.