March Study Day - Communicating Fashion

March Study Day - Communicating Fashion

Saturday 18 March 2017

Do you follow fashion? We probably all do in one way or another as our dress changes according to social norms and the image we want to present to the world. But, for a long time being fashion conscience was the privilege of an elite, usually very rich, sending visual messages to the world of their social position. In a world without printing ideas spread, through dolls dressed in miniature versions of the latest fashions, and travel brought ideas from different cultures. With printed images and text and an expanding reading public fashion communication flourished and in the early eighteenth century the emergence of the aristocratic society magazines presented changes in style, taste and models of female beauty. Early publications, although not magazines as we now know them today such as Nikolaus von Heideloff’s Gallery of Fashion and Rudolph Ackermann’s Ackermann’s Repository contain exquisite hand-coloured fashion plates which are collector items in their own right.

This study day will trace the changes in fashion communication from these early beginnings to the present day.

Rebecca Unsworth - In a World Before Vogue: Disseminating Fashion News in Early Modern Europe
In a world before Vogue, the internet, fashion coverage in newspapers and other such familiar fashion media, how was news and information about fashion circulated across Europe? This talk will discuss the dissemination of fashion news in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, arguing that a lack of modern media does not imply a lack of fashion news in this period, nor a lack of interest in fashion. It will explore some of the texts and images which could contain fashion information, such as “fashion plates”, “costume books”, fencing manuals, letters and sumptuary laws. It will also examine the role of what people heard, saw and bought in spreading fashion news, and particularly the role of acquaintances who were travelling abroad in sending garments and accessories to those back home.

Rebecca Unsworth is studying for a PhD at Queen Mary University of London and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her thesis examines how news about men’s fashion spread across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She has an MA in History of Design from the Royal College of Art and V&A and a BA in History from the University of Warwick. She blogs at:

Karina Virahsawmy - Fashion Archive Film Partnership Project: The Illustrated London News and Fashion Journalism.
‘Fashion Archive Film’ was a collaborative project with the Fashion Museum, Bath, and the American Museum in Britain, Bath. Funded by Art Council England and the South West Development Programme, it enabled both museums to catalogue, research and share via talks and films, one hundred years of fashion journalism, both formal and informal. These were parts of their collections that previously weren’t available to museum audiences.

The Fashion Museum, Bath has a large collection of The Illustrated London News. Not only the complete news sheets, but also torn out pages relating to fashion. A selection were chosen to be catalogued, digitised and used as part of a filmed talk to share how printed fashion journalism in England had changed between 1840 and 1900. The Illustrated London News was the first illustrated newspaper that came out weekly, and shared up to date news. With wonderful illustrations of the fashions from Paris to specificities in changes in the number of tiers in a dress to the fascination in Royal dress, it is an insight into where modern fashion journalism has come from and how it changed within the 60 years researched.

Karina has an MA in Investigating Fashion Design and has freelanced and volunteered at the Fashion Museum for the past four years and helped with the documentation and digitisation of the vast Fashion Archive at the Museum. She works for the Alfred Gillett Trust and became Assistant Curator in April 2016, looking after the Point of Sale Collection, and the Intellectual Property Rights Register. Karina has spoken at the Popular Culture Association Conference and is looking forward to going to San Diego in April 2017 to speak about the Fashion Archive Film project.

Cally Blackman - So much more than a drawing
Since its beginning fashion illustration has not only shown us what to buy but more importantly how to wear the clothes it depicts.

The attitude, the look, the hairstyles, the accessories and cosmetics as well as the social context in which fashion was lived at any time have always provided artists with a wealth of inspiration and subject matter, reflected through their contemporary aesthetic, as well as a vehicle for acute observation and social commentary. This paper will focus on the twentieth century, a so-called Golden Age, but also a period during which photography gained supremacy as the medium of choice for the representation of fashion and also during which the digital revolution took place.

Cally Blackman teaches Fashion History & Theory at Central Saint Martins and is the author of several books, including 100 Years of Fashion Illustration, Laurence King Publishing (2007).

Djurdja Bartlett - Text and Image, Printed and Digital: Winners and Losers in Contemporary Fashion Media
The talk will explore the key issues facing fashion imagery and communication today, and consider them in relation to historical and future media cultures. In order to assess the present and the future of print and online fashion representations, the talk will focus on the post-war rise of the medium of photography, the fashion film as a genre, and digital innovations and fashion on the net.

Dr. Djurdja Bartlett is Reader in Histories and Cultures of Fashion at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She is author of FashionEast: The Spectre that Haunted Socialism (MIT Press, 2010), editor of the volume on East Europe, Russia and the Caucasus in the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion (2010), and author of European Fashion Geographies: Style, Society and Politics, 1912-2012 (Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming). Bartlett is Coordinator of the Fashion Media and Imagery Research Hub at the London College of Fashion, in which capacity she co-organized a conference on fashion media (2010) and co-edited the book - Fashion Media: Past and Present (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013).

The report on this event is included in the Spring 2017 issue of WECS Wardrobe.

Magazine Cover