Aesthetic Dress as Performance

20160416_122027_resized_1Last week we had a fascinating talk as part of the project by Louise Chapman, Lecturer in Design for Performance at Birmingham City University. Louise discussed how ‘aesthetic dress’ isn’t all that it seems: while it was ‘oppositional, anti-fashion and sub-cultural’, it was adopted slowly and often with a hidden secret (hidden internal corsets!) The muted colours, drapery and medieval styles of the dressed in paintings such as Beata BeatrixLady Windsor and Proserpine tell us a lot about the artists who painted them and about the approach they developed which suggested a loose, free approach to dress, but as Louise (and Dr Robyne Calvert from Glasgow School of Art, who spoke to the Pre-Raphaelite Society on a similar subject recently) suggested, this approach was often an artistic performance rather than one which the models and artists perpetuated in their private lives. Louise’s talk generated some great discussion, and it’s difficult to look at the clothes in the paintings in quite the same way now!

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