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Couture and Consensus

Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina

2010
Author:

Regina A. Root

Couture and Consensus

The intersection of fashion and politics in nineteenth-century Argentina

In Couture and Consensus, Regina A. Root shows how politics emerged from dress to disrupt authoritarian practices and stimulate creativity in a newly independent nation following Argentina’s revolution in 1810. An insightful presentation of the discourse of fashion, Couture and Consensus also paints a riveting portrait of Argentine society in the nineteenth century—its politics, people, and creative forces.

In her brilliantly argued book, Regina A. Root writes Argentine history through material culture. Tracing the highly symbolic and coded role of fashion beyond the domestic world, she convincingly argues for its centrality as a path for understanding collective identity. In a fascinating study that ranges from flaunted ‘peinetones,’ to uniforms in their highly coded colors, encasing male and female citizens as agents or objects of control, Root locates the many and varied elements of clothing in the centre of national history. Beautifully written and robustly anchored in the archive, the book’s many discoveries will attract students and faculty alike.

Diana Sorensen, Harvard University

Following Argentina’s revolution in 1810, the dress of young patriots inspired a nation and distanced its politics from the relics of Spanish colonialism. Fashion writing often escaped the notice of authorities, allowing authors to masquerade political ideas under the guise of frivolity and entertainment. In Couture and Consensus, Regina A. Root maps this pivotal and overlooked facet of Argentine cultural history, showing how politics emerged from dress to disrupt authoritarian practices and stimulate creativity in a newly independent nation.

Drawing from genres as diverse as fiction, poetry, songs, and fashion magazines, Root offers a sartorial history that produces an original understanding of how Argentina forged its identity during the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas (1829–1852), a critical historical time. Couture and Consensus closely analyzes military uniforms, women’s dress, and the novels of the era to reveal fashion’s role in advancing an agenda and disseminating political goals, notions Root connects to the contemporary moment.

An insightful presentation of the discourse of fashion, Couture and Consensus also paints a riveting portrait of Argentine society in the nineteenth century—its politics, people, and creative forces.

Awards

Winner of the Arthur P. Whitaker Prize

Couture and Consensus

Regina A. Root is associate professor of Hispanic studies at the College of William and Mary.

Couture and Consensus

In her brilliantly argued book, Regina A. Root writes Argentine history through material culture. Tracing the highly symbolic and coded role of fashion beyond the domestic world, she convincingly argues for its centrality as a path for understanding collective identity. In a fascinating study that ranges from flaunted ‘peinetones,’ to uniforms in their highly coded colors, encasing male and female citizens as agents or objects of control, Root locates the many and varied elements of clothing in the centre of national history. Beautifully written and robustly anchored in the archive, the book’s many discoveries will attract students and faculty alike.

Diana Sorensen, Harvard University

This book is not merely a history of fashion; it is about cultural values and perspectives of a period stretching from the independence movement to the Federalist cause under Juan Manuel Rosas. Roots book is filled with such nuances. This book is highly recommended for those who are interested in additional aspects of Argentina’s political and military histories.

Colonial Latin American Historical Review

Regina Root’s pioneering work on fashion has been extremely important to those interested in the study of Latin American material culture.

The Americas

A stimulating and original book that helps put fashion firmly on the historical map, which is exactly where it belongs.

Journal of Latin American Studies

Couture and Consensus

REGINA ROOT DISCUSSES HER BOOK IN A WEBCAST FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS:

An ethical fashion show the author helped organize at the College of William & Mary: