Ilsemargret Luttmann: Bustiers, pagne baoulé und “Der Weg des Friedens.” Modediskurse über Weiblichkeit, Identität und Politik in Abidjan

Abstract. − Abidjan for long has been considered to be one of the most productive and progressive fashion centres on the African continent. One was wondering what would be the reactions in terms of output, style development, and meaning in times of political and economic crisis that the country is enduring since 2002. Furthermore, the processes of globalization have introduced significant changes with the tremendous quantities of textile imports from Asia and the intensified mediation of prestigious images of world fashion, Western lifestyles, and role models of femininity. Surprisingly, Abidjan still turns out to be a thriving city with a highly dynamic fashion sector whose trends and styles have won highest esteem in countries all over West and Central Africa. This study has two aims: On the one hand, it looks into the organization of production and circulation of fashion to get a better understanding of the local technical and material constraints and opportunities which prevail in this specific city. On the other hand, the focus is on the strategies of professional designers and urban women to cope with the influences of globalization, i.e., the promises of and the limited access to the world market, the political and economic power of the West. Designers as well as women strive with local means to be part of the global world and to retain valuable local cultural values which are constantly redefined. Fashion and the invention of styles play a crucial role in articulating and assuming social changes. [Ivory Coast, Abidjan, fashion, women, identity, consumption, globalization, urban culture]