Special issue - Fashion
In a major collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the IHR took Fashion as the theme for its annual conference in summer 2015. Fashion in history is a topic which has come of age in recent years, as scholars have turned to addressing what is chic and what is style over the ages and across different cultures. The history of fashion, and the role of fashion in history, is not just confined to the study of dress and costume, but encompasses design and innovation, taste and zeitgeist, treats as its subjects both people and objects, and crosses over into related disciplines such as the history of art and architecture, consumption, retailing and technology. The reviews in this special issue reflect the themese covered in the conference.
In between small model spitfires and Sherman tank key rings, visitors browsing the shelves of the Imperial War Museum’s gift shop will find their gaze met by the reassuringly familiar smile of a round-faced rag doll, beaming from the side of a tote bag.
The study of fashion is acknowledged to require a composite methodology. Daniel Roche, in his influential The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the ‘ancien régime’ (1) put forward five headings under which dress could be interrogated: the artefact, textiles, pictorial representation, social and economic sources, and philological sources.
The lower levels of 19th-century society have received increasing amounts of attention from historians, and while their clothing is very nearly always mentioned (at least in passing) Vivienne Richmond rightly notes the individual and collective meanings of this clothing are rarely discussed or analysed.(1) It is an omission which, in Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth
Household goods piled along curbs with hand-lettered signs saying ‘free’; never-worn clothing hanging in closets, price tags still in place; vacated college dormitory rooms filled with abandoned throw rugs, hair dryers, bookcases; consultants who help us simplify our lives by getting rid of ‘stuff.’ This is the world of things that many Americans inhabit today.
A stitch up is a devious act that someone does to someone else. It may involve putting a person or organization, perhaps, in a position where they will be blamed for something they did not do or it might mean manipulating a situation, in unseen ways, to one’s own advantage.
Tucked away in museums displaying and storing collections of dress and textiles there is often a subsidiary but significant collection of printed ephemera. This might encompass bills, trade cards, paper carrier bags, fashion plates and dressmaking patterns.
In Kimono: A Modern History, textile historian Terry Satsuki Milhaupt encourages her readers to ‘reflect deeply and broadly on what the kimono has meant at various points in its long history’ (p. 287). In this ambitious project, she identifies ‘modern’ with the period from the 1850s onwards.
The study of Spanish dress and fashion in the early modern period has generated exciting, innovative, and interdisciplinary scholarship in the past several years, and complements recent work devoted to historical dress, fashion, and textiles from distinct geographical locations and time periods.
Book compilations can be a difficult genre. Comprised of varied essays and authorial voices, it takes a clear and well-defined theme, and a sure editorial hand to maintain focus and quality.
The collection of essays edited for Brepols by Kate Dimitrova and Margaret Goehring, Dressing the Part: Textiles as Propaganda in the Middle Ages, addresses the significance of cloth and clothing in visual culture during the Middle Ages.
In this inspiring new study, Rebecca Houze builds on her series of excellent articles, in Journal of Design History, Studies in the Decorative Arts, Centropa and elsewhere, which deal with Austrian and Hungarian applied arts at the turn of the century.
This is a very welcome addition to the study of dress in antiquity. While studies of clothing, bodily adornment and the body language of antiquity are becoming more frequent, a volume that considers the role of religious dress and the religious meanings of dress among Jews and Christians takes this research in new directions.
Sportswear is as much a signifier of American cultural identity as are apple pie and the Super Bowl.
Fashion Prints in the Age of Louis XIV. Interpreting the Art of Elegance is the record of a symposium held in 2005, sparked by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)’s acquisition of a bound album of 190 hand-colored French fashion plates published between approximately 1670 and 1695.
ugIn the introduction to The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America author Kate Haulman puts forward the question ‘How was fashion political in eighteenth-century British North America?’ In addressing this, she uses fashion as a platform to explore the dynamics of gender relations, societal hierarchies and issues of trans-Atlantic commerce within the politics of 18th-century
Essay collections are always a mixed bag, and this one is more muddled than most. The warning signs are clear. The volume is part of a series ominously titled ‘Austrian Studies in English’. Six of the 15 essays were papers presented at a 2010 conference of the same name at the University of Vienna.