In this paper, fashion is analyzed as a complex system that synthesizes the provision of clothes with the production of symbolic value. Through a case study of Denmark, I question contemporary links between fashion, museum and nation, and introduce the concepts of “fashion nation” and “fashion museology”. I argue that the museum’s and nation’s longing for newness, appeal to attention, and adaptation to the commercial market do not merely constitute a shallow quick-fix; rather, deeper ramifications and potentials arise as fashion promotes cosmopolitan nationalism, one in which cultural heritage and national values are not reduced to defensive strongholds in the face of globalization, but cultivated as renewable resources that can be reinvented in interaction with global society.


cosmopolitan nationalism, fashion museology, fashion nation, catwalk economy

How to Cite

Melchior M. R. (2012) “VANITY FAIR?”, Ethnologia Europaea. 42(1). doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


Marie Riegels Melchior (Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen)




Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

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