Fashion reporting in cross-national perspective 1955-2005
This article aims to portray long-term developments and cross-national differences in the editorial prominence, artistic focus and international orientation of the coverage given to designer fashion by a central, intermediary agency within national, cultural fields: the journalism of art and culture in what are called quality or elite newspapers. Based on content analysis, the article explores how the volume and content of fashion coverage in these papers has evolved since 1955 and how this accords with their arts and culture coverage in general. Theoretically, the research draws on the sociological literature on processes and structures of cultural classification and cultural globalization and on communication research into the production of news. The research covers three countries - France, Germany and The Netherlands - and four reference years: 1955, 1975, 1995 and 2005. Fashion has often been included among the cultural forms that have gained in artistic legitimacy in the late twentieth century, but the present analysis indicates that the 'aesthetic mobility' of fashion in elite newspapers has been modest compared to that of other cultural forms. Journalistic attention to fashion is found to vary considerably among countries and across time, in accordance with the size, institutional development and international position of the designer fashion sector in each country and the globalization of the designer fashion industry. The longstanding (inter)national importance of the French high fashion world is clearly reflected in the relatively high amount of coverage given to (French) designer fashion in the French press. Until the 1990s, French newspapers primarily reported on French based fashion designers and events, but afterwards their fashion coverage became far more international in focus, in line with the decreased dominance of Paris fashion and the rise of other fashion centers. Compared to their French counterparts, Dutch and German papers appeared less inclined to incorporate fashion in their arts and culture reporting, although in recent years they expanded their fashion coverage, parallel to the expansion of the designer fashion sector in their respective countries.