chapter  4
18 Pages

What’s New? Institutional Work in Updating Taste.

WithMarie-Agnès Parmentier, Eileen Fischer

Contemporary observers scanning the field forty years after Bourdieu, however, will inevitably note that the “heritage” fashion houses are alive and well, still dominating the world of high fashion in terms of influencing what is regarded as tasteful. Sociologists who have pondered the link between fashion and taste have frequently developed their theorizing by studying the high end of the women’s apparel industry, and have consistently stressed that the process by which a new offering ends up being regarded as tasteful is a collective one. “Institutional work” describes the practices of individual and collective actors that create, maintain, and/or disrupt institutions. At the helm of his own house by 1966, Saint Laurent’s creativity was fully unleashed as he came to establish new standards of taste in women’s wear. Daring to dress women in unconventional garments, he sent down the runway a lineup of female models dressed in garments that traditionally signaled masculinity, power, and authority: tuxedos.