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La esencia del estilo. Historia de la invención de la moda y el lujo contemporáneo

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  295 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
La esencia del estilo o de cómo los franceses inventaron la alta costura, la gastronomía y los cafés. Esto es, la elegancia, la sofisticación y el glamur. Así sintetiza la autora la tesis principal de su investigación, que no es otra sino exponer cómo las claves del estilo de vida y del ocio europeo tuvieron su origen en la Francia de Luis XIV.

¿Por qué los seguidores de la
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published 2009 by Editorial Nerea (first published 2005)
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DeJean’s thesis is that the modern luxury market originated from the reign of Louis XIV, “The Sun King.”

She backs up the idea beautifully chapter by chapter, showcasing how today’s luxury goods and services from champagne to fine dining to lattes to fancy hair styles to floor length mirrors all had their origins in his reign.

And not just they happened to develop in that time period – but that his main political/economic goal for his administration was to make France dominate in the luxury mark
Apr 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The sub-title of this book is "How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour." However, "How Louis XIV Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, etc" would be more appropriate. And it's true, mostly; a lot of these things exploded as a direct result of how Louis XIV [say it with me now: ka-TOHRZ] ran things during his reign. One of the really interesting things was how many of them were introduced to protect French industry and the French economy. What w ...more
Alice Verberne
This University of Pennsylvania grad has also taught at Princeton and Yale and done her research. DeJean read old newspapers from the time of Louis XVI in order to compile her book. It is written in an engaging style that clearly links marketing trends that are still used (and abused) today in order to get people to desire something that they really do not need. I find the psychological innovation of marketing enthralling. DeJean is a Francophile who tends to credit the French with innovating lu ...more
I thought it was women who started style. No--King Louis XIV did!
Some things I enjoyed: The description of an upscale French Market, the description of Cafe patrons.
What I did not enjoy was the complete sirface-level treatment of the topic, I often scanned a page, read an occassional sentence.
And I appreciate knowing how cafes and perfumes and umbrellas came from.
Still overall less than meh. So 2☆
Aug 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culturalhistory
Properly belongs in the pop-literary genre that can loosely be identified as "the social history of concept/food item/technology/etc.". DeJean's writing is from the school of annales meets cosmo, peppered with phrases like "bling-bling" and repeated references to Carrie Bradshaw and Manolo Blahnik. Her repeated attempts to create parallels between the 17-18th century and recent currents events are alternately amusing and lame.

The combination of writing styles makes this book a lighter read then
Emily Dahl
Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: francophiles
Shelves: nonfiction
I picked up this book because i had just finished reading "Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution" and was in the mood for something else French. And I was sadly disappointed by this book-- it seemed profoundly biased. I was expecting some bias (it is a book purporting to give the French credit for everything relating to style after all), but I thought the author took it to a whole other level, laying down some serious obsessive hero-worship for the Sun King. Really? Loui ...more
Laura Guill
Yes, this should probably be renamed "How Louis XIV--," because basically each essay circled back around to how he majorly/even slightly influenced each industry. It was an interesting read, especially as you consider how these concepts are still reflected in modern society. In particular I was struck by the original "aspirational" fashion illustrations which incorporated settings & activities, making me wonder what the author would have thought of Pinterest or lifestyle blogs...
Simone Collins
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in aesthetics or style
Fascinating!! This book was a total pleasure to read. I have such a greater appreciation for style now, and really enjoyed the great detail to which the author went to explain the emergence of different trends and styles. This book carried me through a long weekend family reunion AND three days at the Chinese consulate. Not bad!!

Kia Kofron
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: around-the-world
This book should be required reading for marketing majors. How did France get to be the big dog known for style?
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cecelia Song
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I opened the book with the anticipation of it being another you-know-nothing-about-fashion-so-lemme-tell-ya book, but closed it (yup, the writing is so engaging that I read it almost in one sitting) with solid knowledge on when, by whom and how Paris became what we now think of when someone says “Paris”. The book gives a detailed account on how Louis XIV made Paris, and France in general, the synonym of elegance and style, from haute couture to haute cuisine, from fine jewelry to fine wine. It i ...more
Silvia Pato
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, essay
Estamos ante un ensayo histórico donde la moda y el lujo actúan como eje vertebral de su desarrollo, pero en el que la historia de los usos y costumbres de la sociedad del siglo XVII ejerce como tema central desde un principio.

De tal forma, DeJean nos descubre cómo la corte de Luis XIV fue origen de muchos de los convencionalismos que todavía conservamos en la actualidad, desde brindar con champán en las celebraciones hasta el establecimiento de las boutiques, convirtiendo la Francia de la época
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each chapter is a different element of style which the author thinks grew out of the Sun King's court at Versailles. The theory certainly holds together much better than other such nationalistic attempts, though it may be almost a circular argument to say that the development of these fashions also helped produce a concept of 'Frenchness'. I would argue that some of the later chapters perhaps overreach, merely because the ideas become more diffuse and therefore begin to sound a bit tired. Overal ...more
Average book. Not sure what I was expecting, but a bit boring. Would have been better if the chapters didn't read like stand-alone essays, so that information presented in one chapter was again introduced and explained in another as though you'd never seen it before. The author also makes a few too many conclusions without any stated support. Since she's a professor of French history and culture, I'm sure she knows what she's talking about, but the reader shouldn't have to take that on faith.
As someone said, this book should've been called "The Essence of Style: How Louis XIV Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, ..."

you get the picture. The thing is, I think the book could've been a lot better if it had focused on other people's impact as well. It felt like there was a lot of book padding because she limited herself to things in Louis XIV's reign. Why? There have been plenty of other people throughout time who contributed to France's reputation and creations.

A chapter on umbrellas? Com
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all the girls
So, I've been reading this book off and on since January...not because I can't get into it... But, its just one of those you can put down for a bit and come back to. This book is for all the fashionista's and pop culture fiends. It's full of juicy tidbits like the hows, whys and whens of our obsessions with mirrors, shoes, haute cuisine, diamonds and much more! It's a fascinating read and will give you fun little facts to impress your friends with :)
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Every page, every chapter, in this book was revelatory to me. I had no idea the important role the French, and specifically Louis XIV, played in transforming Paris into the cultural center of the mid-1600s world. If you like couture, cuisine, jewels, and many other things, read this book and you will understand how the French 'invented' it. Fascinating history as told by the author, creating a book that's hard to put down.
Jan 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love this book! It's a great way to learn about how the French wrested control of the fashion industry (prior to them, it was in the hands of the Dutch and the Venetians). You also learn about the evolution of champagne, city lights (one of the Sun King's many achievements), Women's Wear Daily, mirrors, diamonds (the Renaissance people loved the pearl), and coffee houses among other things; basically all things fun and decadent!
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book of how the French invented high fashion, find foods, chic cafe's, style, sophistication and flamour.

So this was the beginning of "keeping up wtih the Joneses?"
it was a bit tedious, but there were interesting parts. I think it would have been more interesting if this were written by someone without a biased opinion of France.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stylish, fun, educational . . . what a way to see how what's old is new again (or never went away). History is alive in every page and illustration. For me, a deeper understanding of Louis Quatorze, Madame de Sévigné, the Duc de Saint Simon, and others. Thank you, Joan DeJean!
I thought this book sounded interesting at first. Then it gets into the couture and cuisine of France, and then it says King Louis XIV was the arbiter of good taste, which I don't doubt. From wigs to all the typical Parisian delights. It was a good book,
Nov 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sun King still rules the roost, and people are still trying to live the good life his courtiers had. The author lays out a strong case, and the book is a fun read to boot (or slip-on mule as the case may be).
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I thought this book was great! Joan deJean did her homework and I am sure a lot of that information was not easy to find. If you ever want to know the origin of practically everthing we do read this!!!
Apr 03, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I checked this out as a library book a few months ago, read the first chapter, and then had to return it...but I will check it out again....when I've finished reading everything else on my to-read list.
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book after I met the author at a DC fashion event but got distracted with life. After reading "The Collection" I have picked it back up.
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't, like writing reviews, do I have to do this? Well the stories in this book just cracked me up and you can never get enough of Louis XIV!
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating. The chapters were very well done and the information was engagingly written.
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read!
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is more about the marketing of Beauty then it is about what's Fashionable. Who decides what is elegant, Louis XIV of course!
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very educational book on how the French evolved our fashion industry. Even describes how we have mirrors and umbrellas! Check this one out. You wont regret it.
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