Brighton Women's Centre
72 High Street
Date and time
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
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Fashion and Dress HistoryFASHION-HISTORY-BANNERC1




6-week course on Monday evenings 6-7.30pm from  20th Feb-27th March

at Brighton Women’s Centre, 72 High Street Brighton (this is a women-only space).

This series of talks will explore the changing role of fashion and dress from the mid-19th Century to the present day, with a focus on how different social, national, ethnic and cultural motivations contribute to the construction of identity.

Session leader bio:

Jenna studied both the BA Hons Fashion and Dress History and the MA History of Design and Material Culture at the University of Brighton. She is visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton where she teaches critical theory to BA students following the History of Art and Design programme.

20th February: Arts and Crafts/Aesthetic dressing, 1870-1914.

Mid-to-late nineteenth century Britain saw the emergence of what would become known as the Aesthetic movement; a group of avant-garde artists, authors, poets and their muses who chose to reject a mainstream Victorian lifestyle in favour of a more natural one that incorporated beauty and art into everyday life, particularly in dress. The Aesthetic movement would act as the roots for Reform dress and the Arts and Crafts, a movement who, like the Aesthetic movement, embraced simplicity. This session will explain the motivations behind the choice, style, making and consuming of Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts dress in comparison to the wearing of fashionable dress of the same period.

27th February: Constructivism and Socialist Ideology: Soviet Fashion and Textiles

This session will examine the textile and fashion designs of Constructivist artists for the Soviet Union following the October Revolution of 1917. Soviet ideology and the concept of utopianism will be explored in order to contextualise these designs.

6th March: Fashion in and out of the Metropolis.

This session will first examine and define the concept of the fashion city as a geographical entity. This analysis will be framed around the concept of modernity and the consumer revolution of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, which contributed to the development of a recognised fashion centre or hub. By drawing on the archive of photographer Humphrey Spender, the consumption of fashion in provincial British towns will then be explored, specifically in reference to Bolton in 1937.

13th March: The Young Working Class Urban Girl, 1925-39

Following the previous session which explored the presence of fashion in Bolton in 1937, this session will look more closely at the fashion and leisure consumption patterns of a typical working class urban girl in the interwar period.

20th March: Fashion revivals: Laura Ashley.

“I love old things. Modern things are so cold. I need things that have lived,” proclaimed Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki to the Daily Telegraph in 1966. This session will argue that by looking back into its own history and bringing the past into the present, British revival fashions of the 1970s, specifically in using the case study of Laura Ashley, can be interpreted as a postmodern critique on contemporary modern society.

27th March: Hybrid fashions: British Asian style.

From the late-twentieth century onwards, and particularly from the mid-1990s, South Asian influences on British fashion have been provided from the post-colonial South Asian immigrant community and have taken on a more transnational and hybrid aesthetic in reflection of their culturally hybrid environment. This session will explore the sources of style influence on dress of the Indian subcontinent and the ways in which these impact fashion today in Britain and among members of the Asian diaspora.

Places are limited. To book, please email: contact@freeuniversitybrighton.org