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Dressing the Part: Napoleon’s Sartorial Politics and the Politics of Fashion, 1789-1801

Sheikhan, Tania; (2024) Dressing the Part: Napoleon’s Sartorial Politics and the Politics of Fashion, 1789-1801. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This doctoral dissertation aims to shed new light on Napoleon Bonaparte’s sartorial politics in the years preceding his rise to imperial power. Despite their potential significance in shaping his political identity, his attitudes towards fashion and the manners in which he dressed in the 1780s and 1790s have received limited attention. The thesis is divided into two main sections, each focusing on a different aspect of Napoleon's relationship with dress. The first section examines the parallels between Napoleon’s sartorial politics and those of Marie Antoinette, as well as the similarities between his persona and that of Juliette Récamier. Napoleon, like Marie Antoinette, tested new ways of using fashion as a means of political and social communication during times of dramatic political change. Like Juliette Récamier, he used fashion to express his own identity and assert his individuality. Through a close analysis of contemporary textual accounts, visual materials, and surviving garments, this section discusses the ways in which Napoleon’s sartorial choices contributed to constructing his public image as a leader and military hero. It also situates Napoleon's sartorial politics within the broader cultural and political landscape of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary France. The second section of the dissertation focuses on the Egyptian campaign of 1798-1799, and analyses in particular the complex reaction to and appropriation of Mameluke attire and the Kashmir shawl within the theoretical framework of Orientalism. This section investigates both the crises of French military gear and the ways in which Napoleon's adoption of these garments helped to weave a narrative of French military power and cultural superiority. Overall, this thesis provides a comprehensive analysis of Napoleon’s sartorial politics, highlighting the ways in which his clothing mattered for the construction and communication of power, status, and individuality in the years leading up to his appointing as First Consul.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Dressing the Part: Napoleon’s Sartorial Politics and the Politics of Fashion, 1789-1801
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2024. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186184
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