Fascist fashion : dress, the state, and the clothing industry in the Third Reich / by Kenneth D. McDonald.
This dissertation examines the social significance of dress in the Third Reich. It builds upon growing scholarship in both sociology and history that explores the social construction of dress and the meaning, or “language” of costume in a social context. The central hypothesis of this project is that the Nazi leadership recognized the importance of dress both as a symbol and a means of control, and deliberately set out to manipulate its use. Although they ultimately failed in their attempt to create a new “German fashion” that was at the same time distinctly fascist in character, the Nazification of public dress was profoundly important in reinforcing the power and authority of the Nazi state in everyday life. This study discusses this process with four major emphases: the historical context that conditioned the choices and meanings the Nazis sought to utilize in the dress and symbolism of their movement; the attempts to “coordinate” German fashion and create an oversight apparatus to regulate the creation of a new mode of dress; the alteration of public dress to reflect Nazi hierarchy and authority; and finally the interaction between the Nazi state and the clothing industry. An examination of these themes will provide a better understanding of the possibilities and limits of social control. The research for this project was completed at the German Federal Archives at Potsdam during the summer/fall of 1996. While the bulk of the sources used in this dissertation include government reports and correspondence between government officials, the archival sources include selections from the contemporary journal and education literature dealing with fashion and dress, newspaper articles, organization and budgetary data, surveys and questionnaires, legal drafts, and copies of government regulations. In addition, the early chapters explore the literature on the theory of dress, examining the power of dress on both wearer and observer within a social context.
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