Blonde Trouble: Women in Wigs in the Wake of Thermidor

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In the months after the death of Robespierre, blond wigs became the fad among Parisian women, a trend repeatedly denounced in the press and in plays. My essay explores the politics of female self-fashioning in this transitional moment by examining a series of comedies about false blondes. Studying the works in relation to one another and to audience reactions, it shows how the controversial new hairstyle offered an occasion for reflecting upon the trauma of the Terror and imagining alternate forms of justice and government.

Keywords: French Revolution; Thermidorian reaction; blond wigs; fashion

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: September 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.

    Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.
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