Are Les Habits de la révolte soluble in com?


From the sans-culottes to the Gilets jaunes... each citizen movement has its own total look. Brands are happy to take on these meaningful dress codes. Or not. Is revolt always soluble in communication?

We could write a history of the revolt from the point of view of clothing. What do the trousers of the sans-culottes and the young women in May 1968 have in common? The scarf that hides the face of the Sandinistas or the keffiyeh of the Palestinians? The miniskirt, the red cap, the yellow waistcoat, the beret of the Black Panthers, the mask of Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, the football shirt of François Ruffin at the National Assembly? These are the clothes of anger. The event of revolt activates the message function of clothing: it becomes a sign of disobedience. Its use, which was reduced to the triangle of protection-pudeness-parure motivations, now supports other attributes: from now on, the garment of the angry body conceals, distinguishes, gathers. It becomes language, an object of communication. It becomes a symbol of insubordination.

When revolt is fashionable

Thereafter, the garment no longer communicates in the same way. It no longer conveys a message, but inspires another form of communication, which relies on its symbolic charge to inspire the consumer. Thus, we see the emergence of clothes whose meaning has been stripped of the indignant effervescence they once had : these are the clothes of post-modernity. Inspired by the revolutionary attempts that regularly suspend the course of history, we see them on the catwalk and in commercials. Loïc Prigent puts it this way: "We love to recover the aesthetics of revolt.

The case of the appropriation of the memory of May '68 by the fashion industry on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the event is enlightening: Sonia Rykiel published the "Pavé" bag, Dior marched in the middle of protest posters, and Gucci declared itself "#inthestreets", with a publicity film signed Glen Luchford.

All that remains of the event is the primary liberating energy: youth, exaltation, rebellion, insolence. Fashion depoliticizes and depoliticizes.

Mini-skirts and French evil

This leads us to wonder: are some movements of anger more 'brandable' than others? May '68 was fundamentally sexy, a creative and libertarian revolt whose slogans were poetic, whose demonstrations were filmed by Godard and Marker and whose posters were designed at the École des Beaux-Arts.

Will the Yellow Vests movement have a similar posterity? Its location is no longer the Boulevard Saint-Germain, but the roundabout, symbol of "French evil », or the Champs-Élysées, a luxurious representation of consumerism and capitalism. Its emblem is no longer the miniskirt, a mark of liberated desire, but the high security waistcoat, an attribute of the motorist and a symbol of distress. Its cause is no longer the liberation of morals, but the impoverishment of the periphery. The marchers are no longer young, idealistic students, but "refractory Gauls" "yellow with rage", driven by what BHL describes as 'sad, mortifying, nihilistic passions ». The energy remains, but in the form of a radical and desperate impulse, neither punk - another very 'brandable' figure, often mobilised in advertising - nor poetic. But something else.

So what is it that attracts brands to rebellion movements? Captivated by the breath that drives them, by the energy of refusal that lifts them up, by these bodies that say "no", brands can only agree on the potential of such an imaginary, so conducive to the thrill of collective emotion.