The Tea Gown: A virtual talk with Dr Anne Bissonnette

Wednesday, 17 April

Join us for our next virtual event!

In her presentation, Dr. Bissonnette will explore the history of the tea gown and its evolving nature. Worn by hostesses receiving invited guests in their homes for five o'clock tea, the tea gown emerged from within the category of interior gowns, and, as teatime grew in popularity and sophistication, these gowns crossed over to the realm of day and evening wear, a phenomenon seldom seen during the Victorian Era.

A product of their times, tea gowns also surfaced in an era marked by historicism, eclecticism and exoticism which help define their aesthetics and construction. A plateau for fantasy and innovation, they provided respectable women a place to experiment within the codified system of 19th-century dress and behavioural codes.

Dr. Bissonnette is a Professor in Material Culture and Curatorship and the Curator of the Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection (Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta). She holds undergraduate degrees in Sciences, Fashion Design, and Art History and graduate degrees in Museum Studies in Costumes and Textiles (MA) and Museum Studies & History (PhD). She returned to Canada in 2009 after 14 years as Curator of the Kent State University Museum. Her interdisciplinary, object-focused dress research begins in the eighteenth century, extends to the present day and takes on a variety of forms (written work, exhibitions and creative designs). She pays special interest to the cut and construction of clothing, how bodies and clothes interact, and on the convergence between art, fashion and science. She is a 2020 CSA Fellow and 6 of the 56 exhibitions she curated or co-curated either received a CSA Richard Martin Award or a commendation from the group. Her work on tea gowns started with an exhibition in 1997 and has continued since.

This event is for Costume Society members only. You can become a member to see this talk, see more information about becoming a member here.

Members will be sent a private booking link via email soon, so keep your eyes out for it in your inboxes.

Image Credit Burgundy Tea Gown. Unknown maker and place of origin, ca. 1891. Made from a European (likely Scottish) “Paisley” shawl. Human Ecology’s Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles. 

Please indicate your consent to our use of cookies

Some cookies are required for our site to function. Optional cookies are used for functionality (remembering recently visited pages) and performance (Google Analytics). Visit our privacy and cookies page to find out more, and manage your consent at any time.