Introducing the latest Costume Society Journal issue

26 November 2023

In this week's blog post, we introduce the new Autumn issue of the Costume Society journal, looking at the abstracts of the fascinating articles included. The print copies have been sent to members, and the journal can also be accessed online.

The Decline of Female Mourning Wear: A Case Study Analysis of Frederic Forster's Mourning Warehouse 1849-1923 in Leeds, UK

By Kevin Almond and Judith Simpson

This article discusses substantial new research which explored the trade in UK female mourning wear by tracing the history of Frederic Forster's Mourning Warehouse, situated on Lower Briggate in Leeds 1849-1923. It also interrogated the small collection of Forster items held by Leeds Museums and Galleries (LMG). This helped to develop an understanding of why UK female mourning wear, which dominated the High Street in the late nineteenth century, began to diminish. The research subsequently examined what the Forster items signify to a present-day audience and whether the need for special clothing to denote mourning has decreased or is met by other clothing practices in a globalized world. A review of literature raised several explanations, suggesting that the cultural work done by mourning clothing is no longer required today and the symbolic efficacy of black mourning clothing disappeared as black became increasingly popular in fashionable dress. The study tested these suppositions through an object-based analysis of the items in the LMG collection and a database search of newspaper advertisements from Frederic Forster in the period 1849 – 1923. The research activities were filmed to synthesise the insights and the film was discussed with a selection of interview participants to explore significant new knowledge and understanding about the decline of the UK, female mourning dress trade.















Embroidered Hierarchies: French Civil Uniforms and the décret du 29 messidor in Napoleonic Paris and Milan

By Brontë Hebdon

In the days following Napoleon Bonaparte’s nomination as Emperor of the French in May 1804, two decrees were introduced to French society: the décret du 24 messidor an XII and the décret du 29 messidor an XII. The first organized the French court into a hierarchy of privilege, placing Napoleon and his closest friends and advisors at the top of a complex pyramid of social capital. The second decree reoriented the court away from the sartorial egalitarianism of the French Revolution by legislating court costumes of varying colours and embroidery designs to correspond with each newly-created governmental and courtly rank. Many histories of this period connect Napoleon’s court costumes to his desire to strengthen the French silk industry, but less is understood about how Napoleon used these court costumes at his courts outside of France as organizational and imperialistic tools of social control. This article considers how the décret du 24 messidor and the décret du 29 messidor were implemented in Paris and in the Kingdom of Italy in Milan in 1805, revealing that even as Napoleon’s government attempted to structure French courtly society through codes of sartorial display, personal expression for men was still possible, especially through embroidery.  

















‘El Ajuar de Ana de Austria, Infanta de Espana, Reina de Francia’: An introduction to Anne of Austria’s trousseau.

By Suzanne Lussier

In October 1615, the fourteen-year-old Infanta Anne of Austria began a journey that brought her from her native Spain to the court of France where she would become the wife of the French King Louis XIII and later the mother of Louis XIV, the Sun King. According to royal tradition, Anne’s father, King Philip III of Spain bestowed her with a wedding trousseau which included magnificent garments, jewellery, furniture, silverware, and perfumes.  The transcription of the trousseau was published in Spanish in 1949 and translated into English by this author. This article looks at the gowns, accessories, and linens listed in the royal inventory and refers to portraits of the young princess and other members of the Spanish Royal family. It examines an understudied archival source and contributes to the existing studies of dress as a marker of royal identity and as a tool in the political alliances through royal marriages.





















Fast Fashion: English and French Fashion Plates in South America during the Early Nineteenth-Century

By Marcelo Marino

This article focuses on the circulation of specific European and English fashion magazines and fashion plates in Latin America during the early nineteenth century. Images of fashion and clothing have been present at all stages of the development of visual reproduction techniques. Together, paper and print culture have been linked from the beginning to the notion of speed in the transmission of ideas. The relationship between paper, fashion and the circulation of printed materials was consolidated during the long nineteenth century but began much earlier. Fashion images (fashion plates, but also watercolours and drawings) formed perhaps one of the most important and numerous categories within the visual culture of the period. I highlight the role that some of these representations of fashion on paper have had in the history of the circulation of printed materials in South America with special attention to Pancho Fierro’s watercolours in Perú, Rudolf Ackermann’s magazines and books in Latin America and César Hipólito Bacle and Adrienne Macaire’s fashion plates in Argentina.













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