Swanning about in the stacks. From the Providence Athenaeum Director of Programs, Christina Bevilacqua, ” Join us for two conversations that reconsider conventional assumptions about both Proust and fashion – in part by showing how Proust “read” and used fashion to write about everything from the frivolous to the profound.”
Tuesday’s Salon: Proustfest part 1: Bard Graduate Center Assistant Professor of Clothing and Textiles Michele Majer on “Dress and the Dandy in Proust” (part of the “Artist/Rebel/Dandy” series presented in conjunction with Museum of Art RISD).
“Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.” This Baudelairean manifesto found nuanced expression in the work of Proust, for whom the evocative, multivalent aspect of clothing—its ambiguity in being intimately connected to but not of the body, its transformative ability to reveal, conceal, or disguise the body and the inner self, and our deeply personal, psychological relationship to what we and others wear—made it a serious object of study. Characters like the aristocratic dandy the Baron de Charlus, the cultured aesthete Charles Swann, and the supremely elegant Princesse de Guermantes are each associated with their highly distinctive styles. Majer will examine fashion’s fin de siècle moment and the ways that Proust used dress as a manifestation of his characters’ personalities and to deconstruct the meanings of their sartorial choices.
More later about Friday’s event, or go here for information about upcoming Athenaeum programs.
Free and open to the public, 5pm to 7pm, Tuesday, November 13, Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street