Understanding the Gaps: Four Archetypes of 1790s Gowns

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2016-11-09
Authors
Bissonnette, Anne
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Abstract

This research is a component of a larger project investigating a particular moment of transition in the history of fashion, the 1790s in Europe and America, asking how, in an age imbued with idealism, fashion's visual rhetoric could reflect and effect changes in society. In order to analyze dress of this period, the first step was to find, identify and carefully examine surviving gowns and visual sources in France, England, Scotland and the United States of America to reassess the stereotypical understanding of this complex decade that marked the beginning of modernity in dress. A micro-level analysis, the research addresses the gap between the conventional eighteenth-century silhouette to the neoclassical one and isolates four different archetypes of gowns. It provides a base from which to apply a more theorized macro-level analysis that will observe the interactions of dress within the political, philosophical, artistic and economic changes taking place in society.

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