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Born in the late 19th century, jazz gained mainstream popularity during a volatile period of racial segregation and gender inequality. It was in these adverse conditions that jazz performers discovered the power of dress as a visual tool used to defy mainstream societal constructs, shaping a new fashion and style aesthetic. Fashion and Jazz is the first study to identify the behaviours, signs and meanings that defined this newly evolving subculture.
Drawing on fashion studies and cultural theory, the book provides an in-depth analysis of the social and political entanglements of jazz and dress, with individual chapters exploring key themes such as race, class and gender. Including a wide variety of case studies, ranging from Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong and Chet Baker, it presents a critical and cultural analysis of jazz performers as modern icons of fashion and popular style.
Addressing a number of previously underexplored areas of jazz culture, such as modern dandyism and the link between drug use and glamorous dress, Fashion and Jazz provides a fascinating history of fashion’s dialogue with African-American art and style. It is essential reading for students of fashion, cultural studies, African-American studies and history.