In Fashion: Venues for Sybaritic Parades in Italy and Beyond
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The subject of the ancient Sybarites is highly influential for understanding fashion. Historically, Sybarites were famously believed to live luxuriously in their sumptuous city of Sybaris in what today is southern Italy. The term 'sybarite' has become proverbial and luxury remains associated with the legendary vanished city and its inhabitants. In 1876, Italian writer Romualdo Cannonero discussed a proverb concerning the luxurious lifestyle and dress sense of the ancient Sybarites. This proverb also critiqued their insolence and sumptuous ways of walking, expressed as the 'sybaritic parade'. The fame of the 'sybaritic parade' in Renaissance Venice subsequently impacted Parisian aesthetic sensibilities in the eighteenth century. Through time, the Sybarites' luxurious and pleasure-seeking habits came to be identified with cuisine, opera, the architectural realm and fashion. This chapter will investigate the 'sybaritic' venues aboard as cultures of fashion. It will focus on the modifications of luxurious surroundings and question how these surroundings created the catwalk of certain cities. Then, the chapter will highlight the criticism associated with the aristocratic sybarites throughout eighteenth- and the nineteenth-century France, identifying its underpinnings as moralistic. It next examines Cannonero's proverb in relation to the genesis of French fashion and later the rise of the American department store. It argues that 'sybaritic' venues were, and still are, fashionable architectural spaces.
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