Through the (New) Looking Glass: Gendered Bodies, Fashion and Resistance in Post-war New Zealand
In 1947, French designer Christian Dior released the New Look, a style of women’s clothing characterized by long, stiffened skirts and wasp waistlines. For Dior, the fashion offered a glamorous, feminine look following many women’s more functional - and ostensibly masculine - wartime garb. The ‘Look’ arrived in New Zealand from Europe in mid-1948. The New Zealand debates around the fashion offer a useful ‘looking glass’ into contemporary cultural and political currents, as the female body adorned in ‘the Look’ can be understood as a site at which regimes of bodily discipline, debates over women’s work and discourses of ‘women’s emancipation’ converged. This article examines a range of New Zealand women’s responses to ‘the Look’ in order to critically interrogate these convergences and to reexamine intellectual debates over consumption, pleasure, domination and resistance. The New Look engendered a complex web of embraces and resistances and this suggests a more nuanced framing of conceptions of domination and resistance in consumption studies than has often been the case.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Rights Statement: Copyright © 2002 SAGE Publications
Keywords: fashion; gender; consumption; bodies; history; New Zealand; feminism; resistance
Research Type: Journal Article
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