Jean Patou, Collection Leaflet, Summer 1929. © Forney Library, CC2404.
Une robe nommée désir : contribution à la titrologie de mode dans l'entre-deux-guerres
A Dress Named Desire: Contribution to the Titrology of Fashion in the Interwar Years
This article examines the naming – or titling – of haute couture designs in the interwar years by looking at the case of Jean Patou, a fashion house whose couturier was an avid reader, bibliophile and book collector. Specifically, it questions the nature of fashion denominations, at the intersection of artistic titles, given names and spells. Separate from the garment it designates, the fashion name provides a threshold of interpretation, in Gérard Genette's framing. A typology of fashion names at Patou shows that these provide a key for interpreting the collections, and for analyzing the social and cultural background of couture consumers. In addition, the article reflects on the specific issues related to the naming of perfume and cosmetic products, including translation to penetrate foreign markets, and especially the US market. Last, the article situates naming practices in relation to commercial literature (press kits and other relevant texts). The article argues that product names are instrumental in interpreting the strategies of fashion producers as well as the desires of fashion consumers.
Peer-reviewed article published in Livraisons de l'Histoire de l'Architecture 27:1, 2014: pp. 129-152.