The Problematic Of Fashion In Nazi Germany: Two Case Studies
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 16:58 by Lauriane Duval-Bélair
Whilst very few scholars have paid attention to the role fashion played within Nazi Germany, the topic is highly relevant. As this Master Research Project (MRP) theorizes and documents, the totalitarian regime considered fashion as a tool to extend political control as well as pervasive disciplining of the body and ultimately to manipulate women. At the same time, we also see telling contradictions. Whilst propaganda officially displayed an ideal “Aryan” woman, with her simple peasant dress or traditional dirndl, the practices of the state’s leaders’ wives diverged from the official female images promoted through propaganda. Indeed, Magda Goebbels (married to the Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels) and Eva Braun (Adolf Hitler’s mistress) remained highly fashionable, sporting the latest Parisian trends in their respective public and private spheres, pointing to the inherent duplicity of Nazi ideology and the practice of its leaders. Using Michel Foucault’s theory of power, which posits that power is anchored in the body, along with critical theories of Nazi totalitarianism and fashion theory, this research unpacks a corpus of archival images to bring to light how these women used fashion in ways that helped in the implementation and running of the fascist and murderous state. Throughout the reign of the National Socialist party, fashion and glamour remained a gendered tool in increasing the state's power. Far from innocent, fashion was implicated in the construction of fascist identity.