March 12, 2017

Dress & Diplomacy [22 March 2017, Copenhagen]

Invited talks: Kjerstin Vedel, PhD Fellow at Museum of National History at Frederiksborg. Vivi Lena Andersen, Archaeologist and Curator at the Museum of Copenhagen. Katia Johansen, Conservator. Birgitte Thaulow, Fashion designer

There is still much to learn about where, how and why diplomats are keys actors in the many ways the trade of textile and the culture of clothing is spread out on a global scale through time and space. The research theme chosen by Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset for CTR's Research & Development day is presented through a series of case studies investigating the impact of diplomacy and secret service in the area of Dress and Textile. 

The influence of diplomatic networks on fashion circuits has not yet attracted the attention of researchers in fashion history. Nonetheless the diplomatic archives conserve numerous documents of diverse types concerning directly the study of fashion and more generally that of taste. Attentive observers of the society of their time and of their contemporaries, diplomats, had an official and often political mission, thanks to marriages, births, dynastic events, celebrations of peace and treaties in which they participated in the place of their sovereign. They also served as intermediaries and indispensable relays in the movement of ideas, people and goods. Their role in the workings of the economy remains to be explored.

"Textiles and Diplomacy: Diplomats and Spies in the Early Modern Age", on 17th March 2016, was the first session of a series of conferences organized by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow, Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset, (Horizon 2020) at the University of Copenhagen. 

“Dress and Diplomacy”, on 22sd March 2017, is the second part of the series.

Both experts and amateurs sharing an interest in how diplomats are a key factor in the trade and the dissemination of fashion across the globe are invited to share and discuss their thoughts during these sessions. 

These sessions will take place at the Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, South Campus, Karen Blixens Plads 8 (KU2, 1rst Floor, Library & Meeting room 11B-1-05), 2300 Kbh S.  They are open to the public and free of charge. 

For further information and registration, please email:  

Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset:

Centre for Textile Research/SAXO Institute University of Copenhagen
Wednesday 22sd March 2017 13.30-15.30
KU2 Karen Blixens Plads 8
CTR Library and meeting room 11B-1-05

Research & Development Day
Convened and introduced by Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow

February 21, 2013

A Feast for the Eyes ! Spectacular Fashions

 Through costumes, photos, film extracts, sketches, paintings and items of haute couture, the exhibition will show that, over the centuries, fashion has put the human body on show by stretching it beyond its natural limits. It will illustrate the continuing spectacular link between fashion and the body.

On display until 28th of April 2013, A Feast for the Eyes showcases historical objects and garments signed by Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Thierry Mugler and others which will grace the scene alongside the mythical dresses worn in the films Gone With The Wind or La Reine Margot (Queen Margot). Indeed the film-making industry has effectively captured the spectacular aspect of these forms to reproduce them in its big blockbusters.
How do kings, princes, aristocrats, the upper class or stars dress on special occasions? Eye-catching Renaissance ruffs, corsets that pull in the waist, impressive dresses with panniers or crinoline, brightly sparkling embroidery ... These dress codes have been passed down the centuries and are still being given a fresh interpretation even today.
The City of Lace is therefore bringing exceptional items out of its reserve collections, rounded off with loans from major institutions (including the musee national de la Renaissance, CNCS, Comedie-Francaise and Cinematheque francaise). Historical accessories and outfits will grace the scene alongside stage costumes and haute couture: Adjani’s mythical dresses in the film La Reine Margot (Queen Margot), Scarlett O’Hara’s in Gone with the Wind and garments signed by Dior, Chanel, Givenchy, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and more … Painted portraits, film posters and film extracts will put these extraordinary clothes into a new context.
The exhibition is divided into five acts, which highlight this theatrical relationship between fashion and the body.

Act 1 : Ruff times

To begin with, Ruff times addresses the impressive ruffs and other large collars which reached their apogee in Europe at the end of the 16th century. These accessories, with their extreme whiteness, refined lace and volume, were used to create deliberately striking profiles. This fascination with making the body appear bigger and more impressive was particularly prevalent among the European elites, looking for new ways to convey an image of magnificence in their grand homes, at aristocratic balls or at the royal court.

Act 2 : Blinded by the light

Next, Blinded by the light focuses on the luxury and the magnificence of the decorative elements used in these clothes. The extraordinary appearance of the elites in the late Renaissance period cannot be attributed solely to the impressive volume of their outfits. The magnificence of the ornaments and the sumptuous materials used were intended to convey the magnificence of the wearer. Such displays of grandeur were made possible by the immense skill of luxury textile workers, jewellers and embroiderers. Members of Europe’s royal families dressed to impress in extravagant costumes embroidered with gold and silver thread.

Act 3 : Caged bodiesThe next act is entitled Caged bodies, exploring designs which encase the body in its own ‘shell’. The quest for ever greater volume, so emblematic of aristocratic fashion since the Renaissance, was all about allowing the wearer to physically dominate the space in which he or she appeared. Clothing was constructed to form a sort of superstructure, concealing and subsuming flesh and bone to create an entirely new, spectacular physical outline. The most extreme representations of this practice were to be found in women’s fashion, from the 16th through to the early 20th century. The art of restructuring the silhouette and accentuating the distinction between the upper and lower body involved two complementary actions: amplifying the volume of the hips and reining in the waist. The contrast between the two was intended to convey a sense of elegance.

Act 4 : The Wardrobe Department, your chance to get involved!

At the heart of the exhibition, the wardrobe department gives visitors the chance to change their own appearance dramatically with our replica costumes and accessories from the 16th to the 19th century. These replicas allow you to experience first-hand the feeling of wearing these symbols of aristocratic splendour.
You can see for yourself why these long, complex dresses required more than one person to put on and take off, and experience the restrictions they placed on the wearer’s every movement (rigid materials, heavy and bulky structures, contorted forms). Nowadays fashion, particularly everyday wear, is generally intended to be comfortable and practical to wear.

Act 5 : Catwalk

Finally, the Catwalk explores the spectacular ways in which contemporary fashion designers frame the body on the runway. These designers excel in the art of re-appropriation, finding inspiration in vastly disparate periods, places and artistic movements, while also keeping an eye out for new styles born in the streets. Styles, periods and profiles collide and coalesce. Shoulders are often accentuated, while silhouettes may be extravagant and structured or simple and tailored to follow the body’s natural contours. These days, anything goes...
You can find more information about the museum and the exhibit at the Cité internationale de la dentelle et de la mode, in Calais.

February 20, 2013

A Feast for the eyes! Spectacular Fashions [book]

Discover the spectacular relationship between Fashion and the body, the unique metamorphosis made possible by the creativity of designers and the splendour of the materials and techniques they use.

Restructured beyond its natural borders, the body becomes a spectacle in its own right; its forms and adornments are a feast to our eyes. Emblematic silhouettes, from the 16th century to present day, illustrate how the fashionable body often took on strange and extraordinary forms. In this sense Fashion is about performance, a phenomenon which is not just restricted to contemporary society but is a central theme of the history of appearances, presented and examined in this exhibition from the Renaissance onwards.

The book is divided into four sections which illustrate the remarkable theatrical connection between body and fashion through the quest for magnificence, the highlighting of the natural silhouette or the construction of a disequilibrium of the body, all reinterpreted by the performing arts and cinema as well as fashion designers.

The book : Shazia Boucher, Anne-Claire-Laronde et Isabelle Paresys (eds), Plein les Yeux  le spectacle de la mode / A Feast for the Eyes: Spectacular Fashions, Milano, Silvana Editoriale SPA, 2012. French & English.

October 3, 2011

Power Dressing at Court in Europe (1400 –1815) [Book]

The royal court was a place to see and be seen, and nowhere has society’s concern for appearances been more visible. What did the manner of dress convey in this “society of the spectacle”? Sartorial appearance was a powerful driving force behind cultural practices relating to the body and identity. It activated a whole luxury market and fuelled the dynamics of exchange between the European courts. This volume looks at the attire of royals and courtiers in Europe between 1400 and 1815, a period that saw the rise of court society. Kings and queens were among the first to understand the power of clothing and wore it to the highest degree of sophistication. Dress was a means to govern and to rule. Far from following a rigid system of codified appearances, court dress followed the fashion of its time, in which it played a key role at home and abroad. While court dress was an important part of this sumptuous, material culture of the past, it endures in our visual culture today; on haute couture runways and on the screen, costume gives new meanings to appearance, inextricably linked, as ever, to the performance of the body and of textiles.

Isabelle Paresys & Natacha Coquery (éd.), Se vêtir à la cour en Europe (1400-1815), Villeneuve d'Ascq, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles, Institut de recherche du Septentrion et CEGES université de Lille 3, (collection Europe du Nord-Ouest), octobre 2011.

18,40€ until the 31th december 2011 (23€ after)

Se vêtir à la cour en Europe (1400-1815), une introduction
Isabelle Paresys et Natacha Coquery

Première partie : L’habit de cour en politique

La construction d’une image : Philippe le Bon et le noir (1419-1467)
Sophie Jolivet

L’étoffe de ses rêves : le vêtement du prince et ses parures emblématiques à la fin du Moyen Âge
Olga Vassilieva-Codognet

Faction and Fashion: The Politics of Court Dress in Eighteenth-Century England
Hannah Greig

Le pouvoir de l’habit ou l’habit du pouvoir
Philip Mansel

Deuxième partie : Choix vestimentaires et garde-robes royales

La garde-robe de l’impératrice Isabelle de Portugal (1526-1539)
María José Redondo Cantera

The International Wardrobe of Emperor Rudolf II: Visual and Textual Representations of an Early Modern Emperor’s Clothes (1552-1612)
Milena Hajná

Vêtir les souverains français à la Renaissance : les garde-robes d’Henri II et de Catherine de Médicis en 1556 et 1557
Isabelle Paresys

Dressing Charles II: The King’s Clothing Choices (1660-1685)
Maria Hayward

Garde-robe de souverain et réseau international : l’exemple de la Bavière dans les années 1680
Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset

Troisième partie : L’habit de cour et la mode

Petite étude du grand habit à travers les mémoires quittancés de la comtesse d’Artois (1773-1780)
Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros

Marie-Louise de Parme, reine d’Espagne habillée à la française (1751-1819); Pilar Benito García

Fashion and the Reinvention of Court Costume in Portrayals of Josephine de Beauharnais (1794-1809)
Susan L. Siegfried

Quatrième partie : L’autre scène de l’habit de cour : cinéma, théâtre, podium

L’Élisabeth Ire  de Shekar Kapur ou le rôle du costume de cour au cinéma
Daniel Devoucoux

Marie-Antoinette, reine de l’écran
Nicole Foucher-Janin

Le costumier, l’artisan et l’habit de cour : créer, fabriquer et représenter le gentilhomme sur scène et à l’écran
Sylvie Perault

De l’influence du costume de cour sur la création haute couture de Christian Lacroix
Martine Villelongue

April 27, 2009

Dates of the symposium : June 3rd, 4th and 5th 2009

The Symposium will be held on June 3rd, 4th and 5th at the auditorium of the Versailles Palace.

Registration for the public of the Symposium

The material organization of the Symposium is supported by the Research Centre of the Versailles Palace.

It is compulsory to register the public for the symposium because there is limited seating in the Auditorium of the Versailles Palace. 

Registration form on:

April 23, 2008

Main themes of the Symposium

Material & Visual Cultures of Dress in European Courts

An international symposium devoted to the material and visual cultures of dress in the European courts (1400-1815) will be held in Versailles between the 4th and the 6th of June 2009. At the same time a big exhibition on court costumes (17th-18th centuries) will be held at the Versailles Palace (16th march- 14th june 2009). The symposium will deal with topics related to clothing in European courts with a larger chronological time frame, from the end of the Middle Ages, when a « body of fashion » was established and when the courts began to expand. It ends with the last splendour of the French imperial court.
The symposium of Versailles will give the opportunity to survey the current state of research in this field, consider the evolutions between 1400 and 1815, compare the courts and grasp their mutual influences. The conference will be at the crossroads of several fields of research: the Court Studies that have shown the court to be a central site of power and culture; the history of material culture and consumption; lastly the fields of the culture of appearances and those of visual cultures.

Main research themes of the symposium

The field of study of the symposium bears on two topics that are closely linked: the material culture and the visual culture. First it aims to study the reigning princes and sovereigns’ sartorial culture through the clothes themselves, as they have been kept in museums, or/and through the inventories, accounts of wardrobes and bills. It also aims to study the various iconographical representations of princes and courtiers. They contribute to the construction of a of an elites’ sartorial visual culture whose place should be assessed in the increase in the number of fashion plates from the early modern era.
These topics will continue until our present-day so we can study the dress at court or more widely the old luxurious clothes through the fashion and the visual culture of the stage (theatre, opera), cinema or television.

The project rests on the participation of international scholars working in different fields, from the history of dress, economic and social history, history of art, fashion studies and stage and movies studies, etc. Its aims is also to bring together different jobs and trades working on dress and costume: researchers, curators, costumers and fashion designers.

The symposium looks at three topics:

• The reigning princes' and sovereigns' wardrobes in Europe (1400-1815)
- The contents of the wardrobes: case studies (styles, textiles and colours, the distinction between public and private use, between male and female wardrobes, etc); their economic value
- The present state of our knowledge on the royal and princely wardrobes in the different courts of Europe; historiographical approaches and research prospects
• The pictures of the way of dressing at courts in Europe (1400-1815)
- The sartorial court cultures through the iconographical representations: aristocratic portraits, scenes of life at the court, fashion prints, etc.
- The contributions and the limits of these sources for the knowledge of the sartorial court cultures in Europe

• The court dress put on stage: stage, screen, podium (20th-21st c.)
- To create the court costume for the stage and the show: craft, techniques; relationships between the costumer, the director, the scriptwriter or/and the historical adviser and the history of costume
- The use of the court dress at stage, at screen and in the historical television series: reconstruction or creation?
- The court dress and the fashion podiums: influences of the court attire on the fashion design in Couture