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Nothing in Itself: Complexions of Fashion (Theories of Contemporary Culture) Paperback – October 22, 1999

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Editorial Reviews


"Blau has documented in print a lifetime of thoughts, analyses, and critiques on the mysteries of fashion. For him, fashion illustrates many paradoxes of the human condition, e.g., constantly changing yet eternal, frivolous yet profound, moral and seductive, personal yet collective, politically democratic yet pluralistically tyrannical. Fashion success leads to its doom. This brief, thought-provoking gathering of personal musings speculates on such topics as metaphysics of the hemlines, ephemerality of appearances, allegory of the corset, theories of repetition, class-gender relations, and multiculturalism—all of which are reflected in what and why people wear clothing. Blau's view of culture may stem from years of working on theater productions, which in themselves seem to share some of the same oxymorons as fashion. Like many artists who know but break traditional rules, Blau reflects in readable prose an expansive mind not always confined by Western logic or grammatical restrictions. His extensive footnotes reveal a wide, interdisciplinary exposure to history, literature, the arts, sociology, and anthropology—references from the Middle Ages to yesterday. For Blau, fashion is nothing in itself yet everything in itself. Even the black-and-white photo captions philosophize. Upper-division undergraduates and above." —B. B. Chico, Regis University, Choice, May 2000

(B. B. Chico, Regis University Choice 2000-01-00)

About the Author

Herbert Blau is Distinguished Professor of English and Modern Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. In his career in the professional theater, he was co-founder and co-director of The Actor’s Workshop of San Francisco, and co-director of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, New York. He is also author of The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto, Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point, The Audience, and To all Appearances: Ideology and Performance.

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