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Women in Weimar Fashion


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In the Weimar Republic, fashion was not only manipulated by the various mass media -- film, magazines, advertising, photography, and popular literature -- but also emerged as a powerful medium for women's self-expression. Female writers and journalists, including Helen Grund, Irmgard Keun, Vicki Baum, Elsa Maria Bug, and numerous others engaged in a challenging, self-reflective commentary on current styles. By regularly publishing on these topics in the illustrated press and popular literature, they transformed traditional genres and carved out significant public space for themselves. This book re-evaluates paradigmatic concepts of German modernism such as the flâneur, the Feuilleton, and Neue Sachlichkeit in the light of primaryrial unearthed in archival research: fashion vignettes, essays, short stories, travelogues, novels, films, documentaries, newsreels, and photographs. Unlike other studies of Weimar culture that have ignored the crucial role of fashion, the book proposes a new genealogy of women's modernity by focusing on the discourse and practice of Weimar fashion, in which the women were transformed from objects of male voyeurism into subjects with complex, ambivalent, and constantly shifting experiences of metropolitan modernity.

Mila Ganeva is Associate Professor of German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


Ganeva's carefully researched and clearly written study is not only interesting to film studies scholars for the part that deals explicitly with film. Instead, the entire book works out parallels between the societal perception of fashion and film, both components of popular culture that promised unmatched brilliance and glamour and were medial systems that mirrored the experiences of Modernity in a very direct way and formed a feminine niche in mass culture. FILMBLATT

Mila Ganeva has demonstrated the special meaning of fashion in the discourse on modernity between 1918 and 1933, and particularly has analyzed the intricate role of women between self-empowerment and objectification . . . Her work [is] an indispensable contribution to research in this area. QUERELLES-NET

This important and innovative work . . . makes a significant contribution to the emerging literatures of fashion and modernity with respect to gender. H-NET REVIEWS


First Published: 01 Aug 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571135162
21 black and white illustrations
Pages: 252
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: Camden House
BIC Class: JFSJ1

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction: On Fashion, Women, and Modernity
  • 2  The Fashion Journalist: Flâneur or New Woman?
  • 3  Fashion Journalism at Ullstein House
  • 4  In the Waiting Room of Literature: Helen Grund and the Practice of Fashion and Travel Writing
  • 5  Weimar Film as Fashion Show
  • 6  The Mannequins
  • 7  Fashion and Fiction: Women's Modernity in Irmgard Keun's Novel Gilgi
  • 8  Epilogue
  • 9  Appendix I: Biographical Information on Fashion Journalists and Fashion Illustrators
  • 10  Appendix II: A List of German Feature Films about Fashion from the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s
  • 11  Works Cited
  • 12  Index

German Novelists of the Weimar Republic

German Novelists of the Weimar Republic