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Our past talks will be available here after the live event. They will only be available for one month, so make sure you don't miss out!



At a time of great disruption and uncertainty, many of us are having to rethink and re-plan research projects. This series of talks aims to demonstrate the dynamic ways in which dress history is a discipline at the forefront of research innovation. Even before the challenges imposed by COVID, dress historians have striven to find ingenious and inventive new ways to approach their discipline.


Week One: Picturing Dress

1st October 2020


Ingrid Mida

Drawing as a Creative Approach to Dress and Art History


Zara Kesterton

Photoshopping Ephemera: reconstructing late eighteenth-century dress through digital image manipulation

Week Two: Innovative and Innovating Textiles

15th October 2020


Alexandra Makin

Re-Sensorialising Embroidery through Recreation


Courtney Wilder

Hiding in Plain Sight: Chasing ‘Rainbow’ Printed Dress Fabrics in 1840s Visual Representation

Week Three: Spanish Dress in Spain and Beyond

29th October 2020


Laura Beltrán-Rubio

Redressing Colonial Spanish America: New Paths for Dress History


Nicholas Wolters

The Gentleman’s Paradise: Rebranding Men’s Fashion and Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century Barcelona

Week Four: Material Culture of Dress

12th November 2020


Kelsey Power

Dress and Agency, the Case of British Prisoners of War in France, 1803-1815


Kit Maxwell

Glass, identity and the polite body

Week Five: Missing Objects

26th November 2020

Anna Jamieson

Materialising Madness, Missing Objects and the Crazy Jane Hat


Jenny Richardson

Fading from view – collecting photographic evidence of vanished workwear

Week Six: Making and Remaking Dress

10th December 2020


Hilary Davidson

The Making Turn as Radical Practice: Decolonisation, Feminism and Other Voices in Dress History


Carolyn Dowdell

‘1 Nightgown new made’: A Practical Investigation of Eighteenth-Century Clothing Alteration


Rebecca Morrison

(Re)making Mantuas: From Seamstresses to Mantua-Makers



Dress can tell diverse stories of human life. Its materiality has preserved and privileged different lives to those recorded in print, pen and paint. Dress breaks through the barriers often imposed in written and visual sources, and can be used to understand and explore the lives of those who may have been excluded from the written record. 


The field of dress history has championed the representation of women’s stories, but that history is primarily white and wealthy. In this season we want to explore varied stories of human life, and to particularly highlight research where dress is used to access underrepresented stories. 


Dress encompasses both shared experience and deeply personal stories. It allows people to tell stories about themselves within their lifetime, while the afterlives of dress enable dress scholars to reassemble and share stories about the past. 


Week One: Life Fragments

21st January 2021


Alison Matthews David & Kate Strasdin (20-minute paper)

Missing Friends: Stitching Together Stories from Nineteenth-century Textile Swatches

Alden O’Brien (20-minute paper)

Dress and Dressmaking as Seen in a Connecticut Diary, 1801-21 ​



Week Two: Subversions & Traditions

28th January 2021


Katie May Anderson (10-minute paper)

Evolving heritage: Queer interactions with Dutch folk dress

​Li-Xuan Teo (10-minute paper)

The Kebaya in 20th Century Malaysia and Singapore


Ilya Parkins (20-minute paper)

Feeling Cool, Feeling Powerful: Wedding Apparel Experiences of Queer and Trans People​

Week Three: Recontextualised Lives

11th February 2021


Isabella Rosner (20-minute paper)

Sampling Samplers: Sartorial Experiments in the 20th and 21st Centuries


Faith Cooper (20-minute paper)

A Fashionable Fetish: Examining the Qipao in the Eyes of the West

Book Launch

25th February 2021

Serena Dyer

Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture in the 18th Century

Week Four: Re-examining Class

11th March 2021


Lucie Bea Dutton (10-minute paper)

Queens of Silk


Kristina Francescutti (10-minute paper)

“Not the Wife of a Noble”: The Sartorial Biography of an Italian Common Woman


Valerie Wilson (20-minute paper)

Cut, make and trim: Women’s work in garment manufacturing in Ulster 1880 – 1960


Week Five: Collection Stories

25th March 2021

Emily Gallagher (10-minute paper)

Uncovering Victorian and Edwardian (1850-1910) working-class dress in England’s museums


Lucie Whitmore & Bethan Bide (20-minute paper)

Lost & Found: Human stories in Jewish-made fashion objects 


Cassie Davies-Strodder (20-minute paper)

Lost Stories: Personal collections of clothing and the museum


​ Week Six: Illustrating Bodies

15th April 2021


Holly Fletcher (20-minute paper)

Fatness and Fashion: The Dressed Experience of Bodyweight in Early Modern Germany


Dolla Merrillees (20-minute paper)

From Isfahan to London


Week Seven: Self-Fashioned Youth

29th April 2021


Mariela Aguero (10-minute paper)

Post-Subcultural Groups in Costa Rica: Clothing Styles During the 1990s


Rosie Findlay (20-minute paper)

Fashion as Mood, Style as Atmosphere: Creative Fashion Writing in London Review of Looks


Jo Jenkinson (20-minute paper)

Portrait Youth: Documenting narratives of youth through styling and dress






‘The past has to be taken apart. Old themes are worn as new details.’ - Judith Clark


When introduced to histories of dress, we are often met with timelines of fashion that imply a neat, progressive evolution of fashionable styles through the years. Clothing is framed as an index to history. Yet dress does not conform to an orderly chronology. It is full of disruptive reverberations, re-interpretations and revivals. The fashions of the past are repeatedly dismantled and reimagined, sending sartorial echoes through time. 


The historic resonance of dress can also carry an emotional weight on a personal level. Clothes can serve as welcome memories of loved ones, or less-welcome spectres of the past. Memories of clothes can be deeply nostalgic, while the garments not-worn can serve as ‘sliding-door’ moments, causing us to dwell on the parallel lives we did not live or bodies unlike our own. This has been explored, for example, by Shahidha Bari, who describes ‘spectral visions of ourselves [that] haunt these garments like all things that are romanticised and never realised.’


Dress maintains its capacity to ‘haunt’ in the setting of the museum or archive. Elizabeth Wilson described museums of dress as ‘mausoleums of culture’: haunted and eerie. She stated that ‘there are dangers in seeing what should have been sealed up in the past. We experience a sense of the uncanny when we gaze at garments that had an intimate relationship with human beings long since gone to their graves.’ Carol Tulloch has written of the power of archives to access personal fashion histories that may otherwise have been lost, suggesting that: ‘archives enable a lived experience to be revived and reassessed time and time again.’


All sessions are held on Thursday evenings at 6pm UK time (BST/GMT) 


Week One: Nostalgia & Nationalism

20th May 2021


Cecilia Gunzburger (20-minuate paper)

French Revolutionary Dress in the Bourbon Restoration: The Political Uses of Historic Dress

Sabine Wieber (20-minute paper)

Vienna’s 1879 Festzug and the Habsburg Empire’s ‘glorious’ Past

Alison Toplis (20-minute paper)

An exploration of the smock as a nostalgic spectre of rural England



Week Two: Death, Memory & Afterlives

27th May 2021

Anni Shepherd (10-minute paper)

Spectres of the Abyss: the Mysteries of Shipwreck Textiles

Danielle Dove (20-minute paper)

‘Wilful Phantoms’: Re-Imagining Henry James’s Drowned Dresses

Clodagh Tait (20-minute paper)

‘I didn’t get my clothes when I died’: Clothing the dead in Irish tradition 


Rachel Neal (10-minute paper)​

'He is out of shape, like most of us who went through even a part of the Great War': A Nostalgic Tribute to a Faithful First World War Cardigan

Week Three: Reconstruction & Reproduction

10th June 2021


Amber Pouliot (20-minute paper)

Serena Partridge’s ‘Accessories’ Collection for the Brontë Parsonage Museum: Haunting theHeritage Context

Jordan Mitchell-King (10-minute paper)​

Reanimating Dress: Interpreting Historical Clothing through Experimental Wearing

Cynthia Chin Kirk (20-minute paper)

‘I am only fond of what comes from the heart’: Memory and Trauma in Martha Washington’s Purple Silk Gown

Week Four: Performance & Performativity

24th June 2021


Ella Hawkins (20-minute paper)

The Time is Out of Joint: ‘Haunted’ Costuming at Shakespeare’s Globe

Hilary Davidson (20-minute paper)

Looking Back Through Fashion: Regency Romanticisms

Anouska Lester (10-minute paper)

“Item, One Ghost’s Crown”: Haunting and Loss in Philip Henslowe’s 1598 Theatrical Inventories


Week Five: Trauma & the Legacies of Loss

1st July 2021

Lucy Adlington (20-minute paper)

The Apple-Green Gown: Ghosts of ADEFA and Nazi Germany

Mark O'Connell (20-minute paper)

Cosmetics, Glamour and AIDS: Way Bandy, Scott Barrie and Halston

Kimberly Lamm (20-minute paper)

The Time of Slavery at the White House: Elizabeth Keckley’s Written Garments and the Burdens of Intimacy

​ Week Six: Human Connections & Embodied Stories

15th July 2021

Cyana Madsen (20-minute paper)

Exhibiting Phantasms: Reflections on Curating Worn Clothing in Requiem: Material Memory

Liz Tregenza (20-minute paper)

‘I might not remember what happened, but I can always remember what I wore’: Sartorial Stories 1970-Now

Emilia Müller and Tomás Errázuriz (10-minute paper)

My favourite garment: Rethinking fashion, clothing and affection



Week Seven: Historicism, Revival & Re-use

29th July 2021

Serena Dyer (20-minute paper)

Sartorial Chronology and Fashionable Anachronism: Historicism, Temporality and the Making of Dress Histories

Sarah Hodge (10-minute paper)

A Fancy for the Past: Historical Style in Britain 1800 -1851

Ruby Hodgson (10-minute paper)

Robe a la Grand-Mere: Re-use of 18th-century silk in Romantic era dress

Jane Hattrick (20-minute paper)

Queering the Hartnell Crinoline: Reinventing Second Empire French Fashions, Fantasy, Gender Performativity and the Royal Body




Histories of dress often focus on garments as human display: the identities that they perform and project out into the world. For the fourth season of the Sartorial Society series, we want to think beyond dress as outward appearance, and instead think about dress that is concealed and dress that conceals. From the supportive undergarments that act as foundations, to the outer garments that hide a secret identity, this season centres on dress that is or enables something to be out of sight. 


The act of concealment through clothing can be a personal preference, an expression of religious belief, or a protective gesture. Some dress is intended only to be worn in private, to be hidden under the cover of darkness, or donned at intimate moments. Hidden garments can support and shape the bodily form, transforming human anatomy into fashionable silhouettes. Clandestine, mysterious or obscure, dress enables people to have secret identities, to disguise themselves, to change identity, to live a dual life. If dress can form identities, it can also subvert them.


But it is not only upon the body that garments conceal and are concealed. Archaeologists find textiles that have been buried for centuries - hidden beneath the mud. Some garments are purposefully concealed, such as the shoes placed in the walls, attics and cellars of buildings as an act of superstition. And in museum collections, objects are sometimes hidden from view by the systems that are designed to protect them. For this season, we seek to uncover these hidden garments, and to illuminate what they conceal.


All sessions are held on Thursday evenings at 6.30pm UK time (BST/GMT) 

Please note the new time of 6.30pm UK time.

Week One: Undercover (Crime)

30th September 2021

Katherine Lennard (20-minute paper)

The Empire’s New Clothes: Counterfeit Robes and the Ku Klux Klan

Alison Matthews David (10-minute paper) 

Microscopes, Vacuum Cleaners and Chemistry Sets: Fashion Forensics and the Technologies of Revelation

Chris Woodyard (20-minute paper)

The Woman in Black: Victorian Mourning Costume as Criminal Disguise

Week Two: Concealed and Revealed in the Museum

14th October 2021

Lorraine Smith (20-minute paper)

The Underpinnings Museum: Revealing the Hidden History of Undergarments

Rebecca Shawcross (20-minute paper)

Concealed Shoes: The ordinary or the extraordinary on display?


Week Three: Modesty, Privacy and Empowerment

28th October 2021


Jordan Mitchell-King (20-minute paper)

Eighteenth-Century Loungewear? An Investigation of Jumps and Quilted Waistcoats

Noel Jordan Racca (20-minute paper)

Mapping Femininity and Propriety: A Historical Analyses of Undergarments
and Body Concealment Forms during Pre-Colonial and Post Colonial
Epoch in the Philippines

Sonya Battla (10-minute paper)

Exploring the Burqa as a Weapon 

Week Four: Gender, the Body and Performance

11th November 2021


Charles McFarlane (10-minute paper)

Camouflaged to Stand Out: The Evolution of Military Camouflage in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Danielle Sprecher (20-minute paper)

‘The men who wear corsets are just ordinary people, Officers, aye and Privates too’: Fragments of biography of a gentleman’s corset in mid-twentieth century Britain

Catarina Ferreira (10-minute paper)

'Of Corset Does': Investigating the Materiality of Corsets through Embodied Practice

Week Five: Anxiety and Experience

25th November 2021

Nica Cornell (10-minute paper)

‘Whose Body Is It Anyway?’ – Disguising a Disabled Self

Rosie Findlay (20-minute paper)

Sartorial Misdirection

Oline Eaton (10-minute paper)

Trauma, Power, and Archival Privilege: Meditations on Jacqueline Kennedy’s Pink Suit



 Week Six: Tight Lacing

9th December 2021


Lis Gernerd (20-minute paper)

Tight Lacing: the Material and Satirical Origins of a Motif

Alanna McKnight (20-minute paper)

The Fetish Legacy of Tight Lacing: John Willy, Fakir Musafar, and Ethel Granger

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