Fashion as Cultural Translation

Fashion as Cultural Translation

Signs, Images, Narratives

By Patrizia Calefato

Anthem Studies in Fashion, Dress and Visual Cultures

The book deals with fashion as a form of visual culture embodied through signs. It reproduces itself with a pattern based on the semiotic network of places, social practices and forms of imagery.

Hardback, 158 Pages


January 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

The book highlights how the signs of fashion showcase stories, hybridations, forms of feeling, from the classics of fashion in cinema, to fashion as cultural tradition in the global world, to digital media. Based on a strong socio-semiotic method (Barthes, The Language of Fashion is the main reference), the book crosses some of the main aspects of the contemporary culture of the clothed body: from time and space, to gender, to fashion as cultural translation, to the narratives included in the media convergence of our age. According to Jurji Lotman, fashion introduces the dynamic principle into seemingly inert spheres of the everyday. Fashion’s unexpected function of overturning received meaning is conveyed through its collocation within the dynamic storehouse of what Lotman calls the “sphere of the unpredictable.”. In this horizon, the concept of fashion as a worldly system of sense (Benjamin), generates different “worlds” through its signs.

Founding on Walter Benjamin’s conception of time and history, the book first focuses on time as a main category of fashion. Space is the other main category this book considers in relation to fashion.The book next focuses on the body to show how fashion is a system of images that communicates through stereotyped signs, cultural models and archetypes of imagination that produce and define sexual identities in society. Finally, the book focuses on fashion as a means of communication in the age of social networks.


’Fashion has always been an indicator of the times in which it was created. In Fashion as a Cultural Translation, Calefato shows us that fashion informs itself from the past and will into the future, often in a non-linear manner. Calefato shows us the complexity of the role that fashion plays in society and the interpretations of clothing based on elements such as time, location, culture, technology, communication and global socioeconomics. Through her research, we see fashion as a “living, breathing” medium that evolves and mutates through time, space and style; exhibiting cultural significance beyond the threads that define it.’ —Todd Lynn, Associate Professor, Department of Fashion, Kingston School of Art, UK

Fashion as Cultural Translation is certainly an interesting and philosophical work. The original contribution is the way the author includes external to the body influences such as places as well as time and the individual signs and symbols of dress and body modification. —Sarah Marcketti, Director for the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Lowa State University, US

Author Information

Patrizia Calefato is Professor at the Università degli studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”, Italy, where she teaches sociology of culture and communication.


Anthem Studies in Fashion, Dress and Visual Cultures

Table of Contents

Introduction: Fashion as Cultural Translation in the Hyperconnected World; Supplement to the Introduction: Fashion, the Hyperconnected World and Coronavirus; 1. Time; 2. Spaces; 3. Fashion as Cultural Tradition: Italian Style; 4. Fashion as Cultural Translation; 5. Clothed Bodies; 6. The Body as Text; 7. Humans and Beyond; 8. Fashion and the ‘Second Nature’; 9. Fashion, Communication and Converging Media; 10. Fashion Narratives in Visual Culture; Conclusions: Fashion as an Idea about the Future; References; Index.


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