Early Modern Dress and Textiles

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: English


In Early Modern Europe, what you wore was supposed to define who you were. Identities (gender, social, geographic) were meant to be clearly displayed on the body from the hat or kerchief on the head to the stockings and shoes on the feet. Much of this was made from expensive textiles and the investment in clothing at all levels of society was enormous, generating a constant concern to monitor and regulate this form of display.

An increasing number of scholars in different disciplines are now turning to dress and textiles and their histories in order to better understand the multiplicity of meanings that they offered in different parts of Europe between 1500 and 1800. Their study often involves archival work and literary analysis. At the same time those involved in preserving and displaying these items, and those concerned with reconstructing dress (often for theatrical purposes) have developed a much deeper understanding of the material qualities of Early Modern dress and textiles- what they were made from and how. This network brings these researchers, who often work in very diverse settings and with very different sources together over a two year period in order to actress a series of common questions. In bringing together this group to work with objects themselves in museum and conservation settings, we aim to work across different professional fields and engage with the very substantial public interest in the reconstruction of historic dress.
Title Ed Hogg performing John Donne's 'On his Mistress going to bed' 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Enlightenment Gallery 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Title Pleasure Gardens display 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Title Reformation Galleries 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition