Rosanna Masiola

Fashion Narrative and Translation

Is Vanity Fair?

This book is the first monograph combining comparative literature, fashion, and translation studies in their interactional roles. The integrated approach provides an innovative blended approach to comparative literature studies benefiting from the growing fields of fashion and translation.
Within the descriptive frame of fashion concepts and themes, the research furthers the analysis of multiple translations (English and Romance languages) to costume design in film adaptations, from page to screen.

The eight chapters of the book are thematically structured raising crucial issues about language and literature in verbal and visual representation and questioning the translatability of the fashion lexicon and between technical jargon and creative communication. The Introduction on lexicography is followed by the first chapter on Fashion Semantics, the second chapter highlights the stigma on femininity with Women, Vanity, and Mortiferous Mirrors, chapter three is on the Ambiguity of Luxury and Eastern Temptations, a theme expounded in chapter four From Bonfires to Bonnets: The Antinomies of Fashion Discourse, followed by The Balls Before the Battles in chapter five, and Ribbons and Laces: Symbols of Seduction in chapter six, Taming, Tailoring, and Domestication: The Shrew Translated in chapter seven, and the concluding chapter eight on Manhattan Macabre, Murders and the Made in Italy.

The diachronic corpus weaves through the fil rouge of the stigma of vanity and anti-feminine discourse from Imperial Rome to fascism, from Shakespeare to Orientalism, from the Manhattan crime narrative to the more recent ‘chick-lit’, including stage and screen adaptations. The issues related to cultural representation in costume design highlight the tension between the original text and the shift in the interpretation of fashion.
The conclusions are ambivalently reflecting the fashion phenomenon as untranslatable in the dynamics of brand globalization and localization. Whereas the ongoing globalization and digitalization and its pervasive use of loan words and global English give a ‘zero degree’ of translation; conversely, there is also an ‘untranslatability’ factor embedded in the culture-bound lexicon and in the identity-rooted pride in trade-marks.



PublisherLexington Books - Rowman & Littlefield
Copyright: © Rosanna Masiola 
EAN 978-1-7936-4729-0 Hardback
EAN 978-1-7936-4730-6 eBook

Cover: William Holman Hunt - The Lady of Shalott, c.1888–1905 - Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum


Quite possibly the most fascinating, comprehensive and erudite exploration of the lexicon of fashion to be compiled to date! Avoiding obfuscation, superficialities and the capricious nature of the subject, this tome lends gravitas and clarity, (as an authoritative study) covering the plurality, intercultural, historical, sociological, and ultimately the individualistic significance of what we tritely refer to as garments.

- Peter Gray


This book is like an object of fashion itself, expertly weaving together an impressive range of disciplines (fashion studies, film studies, Italian, Spanish, French and Anglo-American Literature). The magic thread Masiola uses to stitch, sew, and embroider is language in translation, which forms the text and texture that allows culture to be transmitted and eventually transformed through several geographical and historical perspectives that incorporate gender and genre, the local and the global. That is why reading this study is like wearing a meta-universe virtual-reality headset, one which allows the reader to traverse several fashion environments and, in the process, to augment what Barthes calls the pleasure of the text.

- Wanda Balzano, Founding Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Wake Forest University


The book is the product of superb scholarship and command of the subject matter, investigating as it does the intricacies and complexities of translating (and not translating) terminology that pertains to fashion across time and multiple languages. More than engage in a sweeping multi-disciplinary exercise in applied translation theory, the author examines the evolution of societal attitudes toward fashion, beauty, femininity, vanity, and luxury as these notions and themes are depicted in narratives and visual imagery from ancient times to the digital age. A tour de force that makes a noteworthy contribution to the study of a culturally relevant topic that has been either neglected or underrepresented in academic research.

- Corrado Federici, Brock University


"Rosanna Masiola uses translation as a thread to lead her readers on an adventurous journey through the history of literature, language and luxury. If you love fashion and style, you will find this book fascinating."

- Stefano Ondelli, University of Trieste

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