Napoleon's Closet: The Emperor, the Clergy and the Fashion Press


ACLS Fellowship Program


Romance Languages and Literatures


Historians note that in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Europe, the suit became a specifically male form of power dressing—a supposed repudiation of “feminine” exhibitionism. This project explores for the first time the careers, reputations, and wardrobes of men who preached the ‘Great Masculine Renunciation’ but did not always practice it: the clergymen who insisted on dolling up their cassocks; the men who invented the fashion magazine as a genre “for women”; the defrocked priest who reigned over ‘la mode’ for decades; and Napoleon, famous for his disdain for fashion, who nevertheless kept thirty-eight of his signature, two-cornered beaver hats in his wardrobe. The book shows how closets and closeting have long been integral, rather than antithetical, to contemporary norms of masculinity and relates this phenomenon to the exercise of modern power more generally.