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Nazi 'Chic'?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich (Dress, Body, Culture) Paperback – 1 May 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 542 pages
  • Publisher: Berg 3PL (1 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185973717X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859737170
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 847,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Winner, Millia Davenport Award 2005, Costume Society of America Winner, Sierra Book Prize 2005, Western Association of Women Historians This well-researched book is a fascinating and very readable account of the role of fashion and clothing in the National Socialists' construction of German womanhood and national identity during the Third Reich. Costume, Edwina Ehrman A mavellous example of how the seemingly peripheral or mundane can shed light on the contradictions and tensions of the worst kind of totalitarian regime. BBC History Magazine Well-written, engrossing and exhaustive study, Guenther furnishes ample evidence of the Nazis' peculiar preoccupation with fashion. By exploring this previously unstudied realm of a much-studied era, "Nazi Chic?" provides an original and absorbing glimps into the absurdity and exactitude of the National Socialist enterprise. Forward, Amanda Fortini Makes powerfully apparent how fashion was often of greater concern to ordinary Germans (and to their leaders) than the trajectory of high politics. The American Historical Review, Dagmar Herzog Nazi Chic? is a remarkable and welcome document, a careful look at familiar terrain from a fresh perspective. London Review of Books, Anne Hollander THis book is an enlightening and important piece of research into a subject which is not frequently given academic treatment. Debattle, Steve Plumb Well-researched, richly detailed, and thought-provoking study shows how fashion illuminates crucial issues in the history of the Third Reich. Central European History It is a book for historians as much as for students of fashion and design, chic without the kitsch. David Cesarani

About the Author

Irene Guenther is Professor of History, Houston Community College.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gerardpeter on 30 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Fashion is not thought a suitable subject for the serious historian. This book shows why that should change. It is a detailed analysis of the attempt to create a specific, unique style for women in Nazi Germany. The project failed - the author shows how and why. She reveals the limitations of fascist power and the reach of its ideology. She asks important questions about the place and role of women in this society, and the degree to which they really accepted "Kinder, Kirche, Kuche".
She takes the story back to the 19th century. Resentment of Parisian style had deep roots. German designers were never able to emulate the fashion houses of France. Nothing in Nazi thinking could change that. There is only so much you can do wih a dirndl.
For decades Jewish tailors in Berlin were adept at taking haute couture and making cheap mass produced copies for export. The Nazis contribution to this industry was to destroy it.
The occupation of France facilitated extensive looting by German soldiers. The plunder found its way into the wardrobes of their wives and girlfriends. These early windfalls were to be forgotten as the war continued. Scarcity of raw materials meant it was a struggle to find any clothing at all. The final form of Nazi chic was the Flickenleid, the tattered uniform of the trummerfrau.
Irene Guenther provides a wealth of information and fascinating detail. We read of the trains that took people to be gassed in Auschwitz returning laden with their clothes to German cities. Illustrations are plentiful and illuminate her argument, especially on the finer points of dress and look. The only criticism I have is that the author has a somewhat awkward way of writing - a better editor could have ironed this out. But in sum a great piece of research and analysis, thought-provoking history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mme Erica on 5 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very Very academic, not for the general reader but useful piece of social history for WW2 research. Complex issues explored.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Terrific Book - Highly Recommended 25 May 2006
By history buff - Published on
Format: Paperback
For an unusual and insightful look into the Third Reich, I highly recommend this book. The title is a bit of a pun, as the subject material covers the Nazis' unfashionable attempts to maniplate control over female fashions and women's roles through the use of propaganda and manipulation of the fashion industry. The book is well researched, well written, and discloses new findings exposing the purging of Jews from the German fashion industry. The book also details information on the little known German Fashion Institute and the very fashion-conscious Nazi officials' wives and their hypocritical husbands. The book accurately portrays the parody of Nazi political folly, as well as the realism of the devastated German home front through the lives of German women during WWII and the millions of women in the concentration camps throughout Europe. Be forewarned - this is one of those books that once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down until you reach the last page.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An EXCELLENT book tying Nazism and fashion! 16 Dec. 2008
By Lily and the Book Lady - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ok, I must warn you I'm a bit biased - I've had a class with Dr. G. As in class and this book, her knowledge of Weimar and Nazi Germany is amazing. This book has been well-researched with her many trips to Germany and she fluently speaks German - no need to have anyone else translate the documents and interpret for her. She's a great professor, a great author, and a great historian. I recommend this book because it not only covers fashion, but goes into the Nazi system, its hypocrisy, and the devastation on the homefront and in the concentration camps through the lens of fashion. And it is written so EVERYONE can understand and get something out of it! A must-read for anyone interested in Nazi Germany, women's history, and/or fashion!!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Nazi Chic is a GREAT Read; extremely well-researched 25 May 2006
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the period and/or in fashion. Loved the anecdotes! Fascinating from front to back. The pictures made the book even more enjoyable.

Can't wait to see what else Ms. Guenther writes!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An interesting look at the German home front 26 Oct. 2011
By K. Coscino - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This thoroughly engaging, very in-depth survey of the German fashion industry expertly weaves together not just the history of clothing design and manufacture but also the various social, political and economic forces which propelled Germany from WWI through the immediate post-WW2 era. This story particularly provides yet another example of how, despite their domestic-style sabre-rattling to keep both homeland and occupied populations in line, the Nazis again failed to bend popular taste and culture to match their warped political ideology, the principles of which were inconsistently applied and were thus generally unworkable (the cinema is another prime example, as outlined in the text of "Ministry of Illusion").

References to high-profile fashion publications such as Die Dame and Elegante Welt, and the articles and photo features/advertisements which they carried, leave me wanting for more directly from their pages, though such availability is limited to German state museum collections. But, the photos which are thankfully included in this book are alluring and tempting samples of a part of German social history which cries out for a "big picture book."

I have only two relatively minor reasons for not rating this book 5 stars---one, it could do with a little more organization in the form of subject headline breaks within each chapter, just to help summarize as one reads along; and two, more of the book titles, organization names and other items expressed entirely in German could have been translated to give more immediate depth to the material. But I can in no way criticize this work---it is fascinating, comprehensive and entertaining, and I heartily recommend it.
worth a read 19 Dec. 2014
By History Teacher - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nazi fashion. Shows it was complex because of course women would not do as told. To my surprise, I actually felt sorry for the German women by the time she got to describing the end of the war, though the way the jews in the fashion industry were treated was of course totally in human and unconscionable. Interesting to see the details, though sad. She's a bit of a clumsy writer though the information is so fascinating. Scholarly book, not art book.
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