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Title: The métier of the fashion merchant (marchande de modes) : luxury and the changing Parisian clothing system, 1795 to 1855
Author: Ffoulkes, Fiona Lesley
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 6850
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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Fashion merchants were acknowledged as the highest status trade and dynamic agents for change within the production and consumption of women’s clothing in the eighteenth century but their position in the nineteenth century has not previously been considered. This thesis examines how the trade evolved in Paris between 1795 and 1855 considering factors such as gender, finance and location in the context of political, economic and social change. The findings challenge the idea that significant change only occurred before 1789 or after 1860. Fashion merchants used novelty, luxury and taste to produce fashionable merchandise, particularly headgear, from a range of authentic and substitute materials that stimulated consumer demand across different social levels. Engaging with debates about gender and the public sphere, the investigation demonstrates that, although there were successful male merchants, women continued to dominate the sector. Married women did not retreat from business, instead their husbands could be helpmeets and the métier was often the focus of the family economy. Continuity was found in the use of credit in trade, the high status of the fashion merchant, the importance of reputation and the value of location and premises. Change was shown in production, sales and promotional strategies including advertising and the increasing importance of headwear to French industry was acknowledged by its inclusion in the industry exhibitions of 1851 and 1855.
Supervisor: Tumblety, Joan ; Hayward, Maria Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available