Costume Society of America Series

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

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Costume Society of America Series

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Fashion Prints in the Age of Louis XIV

Interpreting the Art of Elegance

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Forbidden Fashions

Invisible Luxuries in Early Venetian Convents

Isabella Campagnol

Form-fitting dresses, silk veils, earrings, furs, high-heeled shoes, make up, and dyed, flowing hair. It is difficult for a contemporary person to reconcile these elegant clothes and accessories with the image of cloistered nuns. For many of the some thousand nuns in early modern Venice, however, these fashions were the norm.
    Often locked in convents without any religious calling—simply to save their parents the expense of their dowry—these involuntary nuns relied on the symbolic meaning of secular clothes, fabrics, and colors to rebel against the rules and prescriptions of conventual life and to define roles and social status inside monastic society.
    Calling upon mountains of archival documents, most of which have never been seen in print, Forbidden Fashions is the first book to focus specifically upon the dress of nuns in Venetian convents and offers new perspective on the intersection of dress and the city’s social and economic history.

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Young Originals

Emily Wilkens and the Teen Sophisticate

In the early 1940s, American designer Emily Wilkens went beyond her previous experience in children's wear to create costumes for two teenage characters in a Broadway play. Recognizing the growing importance of the teenager in American culture, she soon launched Emily Wilkens Young Originals, the first designer label specializing in upscale, fashionable clothing for teenage girls. Within the space of a few years, Wilkens skyrocketed from obscurity to national recognition, yet even today many fashion insiders would not recognize her name.
        Fashion historian Rebecca Jumper Matheson explores intertwining stories of female agency through the history of Wilkens and her teenage clientele. Wilkens retained both artistic and business control over her label in an era when most American ready-to-wear designers were anonymous employees of manufacturers. Wilkens parleyed her relative youth into a big-sister image which, like her dresses themselves, allowed her to mediate between the concerns of her teenage clients and their parents. Contrary to popular wisdom, Wilkens’s designs declared that even a teenager could be fashionable. In doing so, Wilkens laid the foundation for the seismic shift that would occur later in the twentieth century, when youth became the fashionable ideal.
       Young Originals traces Wilkens’s career from fashion illustrator in the 1930s to spa and beauty expert in the 1980s, emphasizing her consistent ideal of healthy, youthful beauty.

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