Bloomsbury Cultural History
Loading

A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion

6 Volumes

      Whilst seemingly simple garments such as the tunic remained staples of the classical wardrobe, sources from the period reveal a rich variety of changing styles and attitudes to clothing across the ancient world. Covering the period 500BC to 800AD and drawing on sources ranging from extant garments and architectural iconography to official edicts and literature, this volume reveals Antiquity’s preoccupation with dress, which was matched by an appreciation of the processes of production rarely seen in later periods.

      From a courtesan’s sheer faux-silk garb to the sumptuous purple dyes of an emperor’s finery, clothing was as much a marker of status and personal expression as it was a site of social control and anxiety. Contemporary commentators expressed alarm in equal measure at the over-dressed, the excessively ascetic or at ‘barbarian’ silhouettes.

      Richly illustrated with 100 images, A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in Antiquity presents an overview of the period with essays on textiles, production and distribution, the body, belief, gender and sexuality, status, ethnicity, visual representations, and literary representations.

      During the medieval period, people invested heavily in looking good. The finest fashions demanded careful chemistry and compounds imported from great distances and at considerable risk to merchants; the Church became a major consumer of both the richest and humblest varieties of cloth, shoes, and adornment; and vernacular poets began to embroider their stories with hundreds of verses describing a plethora of dress styles, fabrics, and shopping experiences.

      Drawing on a wealth of pictorial, textual and object sources, the volume examines how dress cultures developed – often to a degree of dazzling sophistication – between the years 800AD to 1450AD.

      Beautifully illustrated with 100 images, A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in the Medieval Age presents an overview of the period with essays on textiles, production and distribution, the body, belief, gender and sexuality, status, ethnicity, visual representations, and literary representations.

      Spurred by an increasingly international and competitive market, the Renaissance saw the development of many new fabrics and the use of highly prized ingredients imported from the New World. In response to a thirst for the new, fashion’s pace of change accelerated, the production of garments provided employment for an increasingly significant proportion of the working population, and entrepreneurial artisans began to transform even the most functional garments into fashionable ones. Anxieties concerning vanity and the power of clothing to mask identities heightened fears of fashion’s corrupting influence, and heralded the great age of sumptuary legislation intended to police status and gender through dress.

      Drawing on sources from surviving garments to artworks to moralising pamphlets, this richly illustrated volume presents essays on textiles, production and distribution, the body, belief, gender and sexuality, status, ethnicity, and visual and literary representations to illustrate the diversity and cultural significance of dress and fashion in the period.

      Eighteenth-century fashion was cosmopolitan and varied. Whilst the wildly extravagant and colourful elite fashions parodied in contemporary satire had significant influence on wider dress habits, more austere garments produced in darker fabrics also reflected the ascendancy of a puritan middle class as well as a more practical approach to dress. With the rise of print culture and reading publics, fashions were more quickly disseminated and debated than ever, and the appetite for fashion periodicals went hand in hand with a preoccupation with the emerging concept of taste.

      Richly illustrated with 100 images and drawing on pictorial, textual and object sources, A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in the Age of Enlightenment presents essays on textiles, production and distribution, the body, belief, gender and sexuality, status, ethnicity, and visual and literary representations to illustrate the diversity and cultural significance of dress and fashion in the period.

      During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the production of dress shifted dramatically from being predominantly hand-crafted in small quantities to machine-manufactured in bulk. The increasing democratization of appearances made new fashions more widely available, but at the same time made the need to differentiate social rank seem more pressing.

      In this age of empire, the coding of class, gender and race was frequently negotiated through dress in complex ways, from fashionable dress which restricted or exaggerated the female body to liberating reform dress, from self-defining black dandies to the oppressions and resistances of slave dress.

      Richly illustrated with over 100 images and drawing on a plethora of visual, textual and object sources, A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in the Age of Empire presents essays on textiles, production and distribution, the body, belief, gender and sexuality, status, ethnicity, and visual and literary representations to illustrate the diversity and cultural significance of dress and fashion in the period.

      Over the last century there has been a complete transformation of the fashion system. The unitary top-down fashion cycle has been replaced by the pulsations of multiple and simultaneous styles, while the speed of global production and circulation has become ever faster and more complex. Running in tandem, the development of artificial fibres has revolutionized the composition of clothing, and the increased focus on youth, sexuality, and the body has radically changed its design. From the 1920s flapper dress to debates over the burkini, fashion has continued to be deeply involved in society’s larger issues.

      Drawing on a wealth of visual, textual and object sources and illustrated with 100 images, A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in the Modern Age presents essays on textiles, production and distribution, the body, belief, gender and sexuality, status, ethnicity, and visual and literary representations to illustrate the diversity and cultural significance of dress and fashion in the period.