This course explores textiles and dress of Europe from Ancient Greece to the 20th century. We will consider the shape and character of garments, the creation of textiles, the use and import of colour, changing patterns of gender presentation, ceremonial and symbolic dress, clothing for different stages of life, the birth of fashion, and the impact of technological change.
Week by week outline
1. The Ancient Greeks: fibres, looms and “sea-dyed cloaks”; textile production and virtue; “white-armed Hera;” Goddesses and flute girls; build your own peplos.
2. Rome and Byzantium: republican ideals and the evolution of the toga; bride and matron; clothing and rank; the adaptation of “barbarian” dress; striving for silk; the increase of “bling.”
3. The Middle Ages: clothing and power; Christian poverty vs. the necessity of magnificence; the birth (and definition) of fashion; luxury wools; Islamic fabrics; still desiring silk; the birth of blue and the vocabulary of colour; the Virgin Mary as fashion plate.
4. The Fifteenth Century: North and South, or surface vs. structure; desiring and acquiring silk; pointy toes and pointy hats; clothing and dance.
5. The 16th Century: Clothing of the Courts; the Field of The Cloth of Gold; more surface and structure; the stages of life; occupational dress; sumptuary laws; the beginnings of lace; black as a fashion statement.
6. The 17th Century: men and women; cavaliers and roundheads; dress and the court of Versailles; the birth of the suit; the spread of lace; New World dyes; Chinese trade.
7. The 18th Century: industrialization; cotton; Indian imports; rococo and the Pompadour style; neoclassicism and the Great (gender) Divide; the birth of shopping.
8. The 19th Century I: Neoclassicism and Romanticism; industrial production; the triumph of printed cotton; chemical dyes; the sewing machine; the department store; the crinoline: cage or freedom?
9. The 19th Century II: elaboration and reform; the birth of the Fashion House; the aesthetic movement; the New Woman; the birth of readymade; masculinities; sport and dress.
10. The 20th Century: the spread of readymade; more sport and dress; flappers and film stars; make do and mend; the New Look; social revolutions.