Colonialism’s Clothing: Africa, France, and the Deployment of Fashion

by Victoria Rovine


“Clothing has long been an important medium for negotiating differences across cultural divides. Garments provide a means by which to absorb distant cultures into familiar frameworks, or to highlight cultural differences, often in order to reinforce cultural identity through contrast with the “other”. Fashion, the realm of clothing that is characterized by self-conscious change, has long played an important role in the characterization of cultures and sub-cultures, providing a key means of marking affiliation or classifying people and cultures. An exploration of fashion across cultures offers an opportunity to trace the flows, intersections, and occasional collisions of forms and their associations as garments and images travel. An unexpected theme emerges from this exploration of the movements and transformations of garments and styles: the preservation, popularization, and transformation of “traditional” forms of adornment.”

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