Mallarmé On Fashion

Stéphane Mallarmé

Translated by A. M. Cain, P. N. Furbank


6 x 9.25 inches, vii + 221pp. 2006

ISBN : 9788170462842

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In the later months of 1874, the great French poet, Stéphane Mallarmé, undertook a highly idiosyncratic project—the publication of a fashion magazine (La Dernière Mode) that he almost single-handedly wrote and edited. Using a variety of feminine and masculine pseudonyms to theorize about the concept of fashion and to report and advise on women’s clothing, popular vacation destinations, home furnishings and entertainment, Mallarmé created a spectacularly original work that lies somewhere between Baudelaire’s seminal treatment of fashion in his essay on modernity, ‘The Painter of Modern Life,’ and The Fashion System, Barthes’ brilliant semiology of clothing in the latter twentieth century. But the distinguishing feature of Mallarmé’s magazine, and what differentiates it from the writing of Baudelaire and Barthes, is that it explores the nature of fashion from the inside. It is a genuine fashion magazine aspiring to lead fashion, though at the same time, by ingenious and appealing ironies, subtly satirizing this whole genre of writing. Complete with the original artwork and a contextualizing introduction and commentary, Furbank and Cain’s definitive translation of one of French literature’s greatest puzzles and surprises represents a major contribution to students, critics, theoreticians, and intellectual historians alike. P.N. Furbank is professor Emeritus, Open University. A. M. Cain is a freelance translator.

Stéphane Mallarmé


A. M. Cain is a freelance translator.

P.N. Furbank is professor Emeritus, Open University. 

Culture Studies