Men in Black and Women in Red: Fashion, Art and Modernity in the 19th Century

This series of lectures will examine the ways in which fashion was used as a way of defining, celebrating and criticising modern life in the nineteenth century. Rather than regarding fashion as frivolous or self-indulgent, for a number of important writers in this period, the constant changes of fashion were a potent symbol of the speed and transitory nature of modern social life. Furthermore, fashion possessed an epic, timeless quality that could rival the beauty of the ancients. Drawing on art criticism and fiction from the period and a wide range of visual sources including prints, fashion plates, caricatures, photography and paintings, the lectures will examine the representation of fashion in the visual arts and the debates concerning fashion and modernity.