There have always been important links between art and clothing. Artists have documented the ever-evolving trends in fashion, popularized certain styles of dress, and at times even designed fashions. This is the first book to explore in depth the fascinating points of contact between art and clothing, and in doing so it constructs a new and innovative history of dress in which the artist plays a central role.
Aileen Ribeiro provides an illuminating account of the relationship between artists and clothing from the 17th century, when a more complex and sophisticated attitude to dress first appeared, to the early 20th century, when the boundaries between art and fashion became more fluid: haute couture could be seen as art, and art used textiles and clothes in highly imaginative ways. Her narrative encompasses such themes as the ways in which clothing has helped to define the nation state; how masquerade and dressing up were key subjects in art and life; and how, while many artists found increasing inspiration in high fashion, others became involved in designing “artistic” and reform dress. Sumptuously illustrated, Clothing Art also delves into the ways in which artists represent the clothes they depict in their work, approaches which range from photographic detail, through varying degrees of imaginative reality, to generalized drapery.
“One of [Ribeiro’s] broadest and most ambitious works. . . . Ribeiro may be a historian of dress, but she’s also a cultural omnivore. . . It’s easy to get lost among the references, not to mention the gorgeous imagery, and it’s possible—and tempting—to dip in and out. That’s OK. But Ribeiro’s argument, sustained over many pages and built on an accumulation of detail and evidence, is worth taking the time to consider.”—Vanessa Friedman, New York Times Book Review
“Clothing Art is lavishly illustrated with full-color images and impressively researched, smoothly integrating fashion history with art, literature, culture, politics, and even military history. . . . The occasional bit of gossip about a particular artist or her/his subject or model enlivens an already lively book.”—Kathleen M. Oliver, Early Modern Women Journal