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Fashion beyond Versailles

Consumption and Design in Seventeenth-Century France

by Donna Bohanan

168 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 14 b&w illustrations

ebook available

French History

  Hardcover / 9780807145210 / June 2012

As the epicenters of style and innovation, the cities of Paris and Versailles dominate studies of consumerism in seventeenth-century France, but little scholarship exists on the material culture, fashion, and consumption patterns in the provinces. Donna J. Bohanan’s Fashion beyond Versailles fills this historiographical gap by examining the household inventories of French nobles and elites in the southern province of Dauphiné.

Much more than a simple study of the decorative arts, Fashion beyond Versailles investigates the meaning of material ownership. By examining postmortem registries and archival publications, Bohanan reveals the social imperatives, local politics, and high fashion trends that spurred the consumption patterns of provincial communities.
In doing so, she reveals a closer relationship between consumer behavior of Versailles and the provinces than most historians have maintained. Far-reaching in its sociological and psychological implications, Fashion beyond Versailles both makes use of and contributes to the burgeoning literature on material culture, fashion, and consumption.

Donna J. Bohanan is the Joseph A. Kicklighter Professor of History at Auburn University. She is the author of Old and New Nobility in Aix-en-Provence, 1600–1695 and Crown and Nobility in Early Modern France.

Advance Praise for Fashion beyond Versailles

“For antiques enthusiasts, art historians, and social historians, Fashion beyond Versailles will be required reading. Bohanan takes the story of fine French furniture to the provinces, where new elites used Parisian decor to display their social advancement. In this deeply researched study, Bohanon shows how color and texture reflected new identities and ways of living that came not from Versailles but from political circumstances in the French hinterland.”—Kathryn Norberg, coeditor of Furnishing the Eighteenth Century

“This richly documented study explores the social significance of well-appointed domestic interiors in a world where luxury consumption was shaped by a wide range of concerns, from debates about the nature of noble privilege to a growing interest in privacy and comfort. By showing how provincial elites in the Dauphiné participated in the fashion system of the French court and capital, Bohanan complicates any simple opposition of center and periphery and enriches our understanding of material environments as expressions of familial, regional, and national identities.”—Mimi Hellman, contributor to Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century

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