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Fashion in the nation-building process: the case of Spanish alta costura

6 décembre 2023, 18h30 Maialen SALCEDO BERRUETA (Paris 1)

The specific nature of fashion is deeply related to nation-building
processes and state-related initiatives. Two premises are central to
this thinking: the first is that clothing is an instrument that helps
individuals to differentiate themselves and to integrate into more
complex cultural and social units. The second premise holds that
clothing is the result of multiple encounters and hybridisations
between individuals, time and space, and therefore carries the
political, economic, religious and cultural values of the society in
which it is produced. Clothing thus provides a set of symbolic codes
that help to materialise the ideological goals of the nation-state
itself and to reinforce the sense of belonging and distinction, and,
therefore, to create a national identity.
The case of Spanish alta costura during the dictatorship of Francisco
Franco (1939-1975) is interesting in this respect. After the Spanish
Civil War, the Franco dictatorship was installed in the country. As a
result of these years of conflict, Spain was a ruined country and its
people were completely divided. The regime responded by launching a
nation-re-building plan, which it believed would help to overcome the
problems faced. This project affected not only the public
(architecture, education, monuments, etc.) but also the private
sphere. Even fashion was affected by this plan. The aim of this
presentation is therefore to explore the role of fashion, in
particular alta costura, in the construction of the new image and
national identity of Franco's Spain.