Roland Barthes: Semiology and the Rhetorical Codes of Fashion

Paul Jobling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Roland Barthes' The Fashion System is a much misunderstood and maligned text but, as the author himself argued, ' ... it poses the problem of knowing if there really is an object that we call fashion clothing'. At the heart of his inquiry is the hypothesis that real clothnig - that is what we wear in our everyday existence - is secondary to the ways in which it can be articulated in the verbal and visual rhetoric of fashion editorials and fashion spreads: 'Without discourse there is no total Fashion, no essential Fashion'. In this essay, therefore, I analyse the dialectic he evinced between two key terms - written clothing and image-clothing - to explore the repetitive performativity of word and image in fashion texts. At the same time, I mobilise key works such as 'The Semantics of the Object' and The Pleasure of the Text to consider the relevance of his ideas concerning the status of fashion as a sign and the semiological meanings of garments, photographs and advertisements.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThinking through Fashion: A Guide to Key Theorists
EditorsA. Rocamora, A. Smelik
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781780767345
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2015


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