The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric by Michel Pastoureau

The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric

byMichel PastoureauTranslated byJody Gladding

Hardcover | July 17, 2001

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Michel Pastoureau's lively study of stripes offers a unique and engaging perspective on the evolution of fashion, taste, and visual codes in Western culture.

The Devil's Cloth begins with a medieval scandal. When the first Carmelites arrived in France from the Holy Land, the religious order required its members to wear striped habits, prompting turmoil and denunciations in the West that lasted fifty years until the order was forced to accept a quiet, solid color. The medieval eye found any surface in which a background could not be distinguished from a foreground disturbing. Thus, striped clothing was relegated to those on the margins or outside the social order-jugglers and prostitutes, for example-and in medieval paintings the devil himself is often depicted wearing stripes. The West has long continued to dress its slaves and servants, its crewmen and convicts in stripes.

But in the last two centuries, stripes have also taken on new, positive meanings, connoting freedom, youth, playfulness, and pleasure. Witness the revolutionary stripes on the French and United States flags. In a wide-ranging discussion that touches on zebras, awnings, and pajamas, augmented by illustrative plates, the author shows us how stripes have become chic, and even, in the case of bankers' pin stripes, a symbol of taste and status. However, make the stripes too wide, and you have a gangster's suit-the devil's cloth indeed!

About The Author

Michel Pastoureau is a leading authority on medieval heraldry. He is the coauthor of The Bible and the Saints and Heraldry: An Introduction to a Noble Tradition.
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Details & Specs

Title:The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped FabricFormat:HardcoverDimensions:160 pages, 7 × 5.5 × 0.03 inPublished:July 17, 2001Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231123663

ISBN - 13:9780231123662

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Table of Contents

PrefaceOrder and Disorder of the StripeThe Devil and His Striped Clothes (13th-16th Centuries)The Carmel ScandalStriped Fabric, Bad FabricSaint Joseph's BreechesPlain, Striped, Patterned, SpottedThe Figure and the Background: Heraldry and the StripeFrom the Horizontal to the Vertical and Back (16th-19th Centuries)From the Diabolic to the DomesticFrom the Domestic to the RomanticThe Revolutionary StripeTo Stripe and to PunishStripes for the Present Time (19th-20th Centuries)Hygiene of the StripeA World in Navy Blue and WhiteOddball ZebrasStriped Surface, Dangerous SurfaceFrom the Trace to the MarkBibliographic OrientationList of IllustrationsAbout the AuthorNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Thinking of wearing that pinstriped suit for lunch with the boss? Or that fancy silk tie? Just be thankful that you didn't live a few hundred years ago, when a getup like that would not only have blown any chance for a raise but could very well have gotten you killed.... It was this unlikely observation that prompted Mr. Pastoureau's book.