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The Gallery of Fashion

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Costume, portraiture, and the presentation of self have been closely linked throughout the history of art. Yet while the face of the person portrayed is still accessible to the modern viewer, the meaning of the sitter's clothes has often been lost to history. In this innovative book, Aileen Ribeiro supplies readers with a time-transcending lens wrought from her considerabl Costume, portraiture, and the presentation of self have been closely linked throughout the history of art. Yet while the face of the person portrayed is still accessible to the modern viewer, the meaning of the sitter's clothes has often been lost to history. In this innovative book, Aileen Ribeiro supplies readers with a time-transcending lens wrought from her considerable knowledge of the history of dress. She focuses on one hundred paintings, drawings, photographs, and other works of art from the National Portrait Gallery in London that demonstrate the fluidity and multiple modes of fashion throughout English history. The subjects span the past five centuries and include many notable figures, from Henry VII through Coleridge to Harold Pinter and Margaret Thatcher. Whether the costumes in question are the slashed doublets and pink satin lynx-lined gowns of the Tudor monarchy or the informally elegant T-shirts and jeans of Princess Diana, their details supply vital clues to the person's status, rank, milieu, profession, and personal character. How, exactly, does style make the man? How is identity forged through appearance over time? Observations on manufacture, decoration, and construction provide an evidential foundation for the story of who we were and are, and how we wished to look. The pearls that embroider Sir Walter Raleigh's costume are attributes of his devotion to Queen Elizabeth; the blue shirt in a painting of 1934 reveals the sitter's radical allegiances; the Duke of Windsor's outfit is an expression of his guiding principles in dress 'Comfort and Freedom.' Lavishly illustrated, this valuable contribution to the history of British fashion includes related works of art, contemporary illustrations, and specially commissioned photographs of extant clothing examples. The introduction synthesizes English, art, fashion, and social histories to chronicle the evolution of the portrait from symbol of individual wealth and authority to its more recent role as revelation of essential personality. Commentaries explore the purpose and original context of the fashions, thus bringing readers intriguingly close to the reality of the past.


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Costume, portraiture, and the presentation of self have been closely linked throughout the history of art. Yet while the face of the person portrayed is still accessible to the modern viewer, the meaning of the sitter's clothes has often been lost to history. In this innovative book, Aileen Ribeiro supplies readers with a time-transcending lens wrought from her considerabl Costume, portraiture, and the presentation of self have been closely linked throughout the history of art. Yet while the face of the person portrayed is still accessible to the modern viewer, the meaning of the sitter's clothes has often been lost to history. In this innovative book, Aileen Ribeiro supplies readers with a time-transcending lens wrought from her considerable knowledge of the history of dress. She focuses on one hundred paintings, drawings, photographs, and other works of art from the National Portrait Gallery in London that demonstrate the fluidity and multiple modes of fashion throughout English history. The subjects span the past five centuries and include many notable figures, from Henry VII through Coleridge to Harold Pinter and Margaret Thatcher. Whether the costumes in question are the slashed doublets and pink satin lynx-lined gowns of the Tudor monarchy or the informally elegant T-shirts and jeans of Princess Diana, their details supply vital clues to the person's status, rank, milieu, profession, and personal character. How, exactly, does style make the man? How is identity forged through appearance over time? Observations on manufacture, decoration, and construction provide an evidential foundation for the story of who we were and are, and how we wished to look. The pearls that embroider Sir Walter Raleigh's costume are attributes of his devotion to Queen Elizabeth; the blue shirt in a painting of 1934 reveals the sitter's radical allegiances; the Duke of Windsor's outfit is an expression of his guiding principles in dress 'Comfort and Freedom.' Lavishly illustrated, this valuable contribution to the history of British fashion includes related works of art, contemporary illustrations, and specially commissioned photographs of extant clothing examples. The introduction synthesizes English, art, fashion, and social histories to chronicle the evolution of the portrait from symbol of individual wealth and authority to its more recent role as revelation of essential personality. Commentaries explore the purpose and original context of the fashions, thus bringing readers intriguingly close to the reality of the past.

41 review for The Gallery of Fashion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I hope my 3-star rating here isn't misleading. I really enjoyed this exploration of fashion as depicted in portraits selected from England's National Gallery. The author chose beautiful and varied paintings, mostly of English royalty (consider the source) in their finest garments, and did a fairly good job pointing out costume details and likely reasons behind clothing selection. In a perfect world, this book would have had a greater range in the sitters' professions and social class, and length I hope my 3-star rating here isn't misleading. I really enjoyed this exploration of fashion as depicted in portraits selected from England's National Gallery. The author chose beautiful and varied paintings, mostly of English royalty (consider the source) in their finest garments, and did a fairly good job pointing out costume details and likely reasons behind clothing selection. In a perfect world, this book would have had a greater range in the sitters' professions and social class, and lengthier, more detailed write-ups. But all in all, I would highly recommend this book to students of fashion history as a beginning primer in understanding portraitature and the clothing depicted in it. Not all of the clothing painted is accurate, or even real, but it all conveys a message to the viewer that the painter intended to be read and received correctly. As time goes by, and our lives and language differ from the time the portrait was painted, a considerate viewer will educate themselves on the messages to be read before judging the sitter depicted.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Khalsa Joslin

    I loved it! Great photos and details!

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gunilla Andersson

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jane Gardiner

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teawithablackdragon

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tove

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Baron

  13. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Welborn

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  18. 4 out of 5

    R.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jean

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Payne Jones

  21. 5 out of 5

    H.P. Holo

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daria

  25. 4 out of 5

    Yara Helmi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dorami Chan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Kelley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

  30. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  31. 4 out of 5

    Bri

  32. 4 out of 5

    Ivy Chien

  33. 4 out of 5

    Madelyn

  34. 4 out of 5

    Vanesa Monroy

  35. 5 out of 5

    Ekaterina

  36. 4 out of 5

    Susan Liston

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kiki Flynn Denison

  38. 4 out of 5

    Gluko Peponi

  39. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Fraser

  40. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Moore

  41. 5 out of 5

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