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The art of fashion

Eight-week art history and theory course

Short course

  • 7 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 14 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 21 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 28 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 11 June 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 18 June 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 25 June 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 2 July 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
This event has now ended

See upcoming short courses

Frank Cadogan Cowper RA (1877-1958), Vanity (Detail), 1907.

Oil on panel. 57.1 x 38.1 cm. Royal Academy of Arts.

Join international scholars, art world professionals and fashion industry experts for a lecture series on the history of Western dress from the early modern period to the present.

Over eight weeks, this lecture series takes a broadly chronological approach, tracking developments in fashion over eight centuries. The study of dress enables an understanding of the history of science, economics, politics, social history, art, sport and everything in between.

Since the early Renaissance and the introduction of sumptuary laws across Europe - laws attempting to restrict excessive extravagance in dress - fashion has been used by the ruling elite as both an expression of power and a political tool. This course explores the power struggles among early European states and how this was played out through taste and dress in the 15th and 16th centuries. It looks at, for example, the highly symbolic dress employed in the English Tudor court of the 16th century.

Depictions of members of the Stuart court in the 17th century gave way to more sensual portraiture, were painted fashions were different from historically accurate dress. With this in mind, the course investigates the gap between invented portrayals of dress as seen in art and what people actually wore.

With the dawn of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, Britain saw a short-lived period as the arbiter of style as Europe embraced the ideal of the English country gentleman. This was once again reflected in art and literature which contributed to the prevailing image of an Englishman.

Considering the twentieth century, the course examines the development of the modern fashion industry and the emergence of pioneering designers and iconic fashion houses, from Charles Frederick Worth to Chanel, Dior and Alexander McQueen. By studying the history of fashion through art, this course explores contemporary responses to fashion history and how we engage with dress today.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 7 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 14 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 21 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 28 May 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 11 June 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 18 June 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 25 June 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 2 July 2019, 6.30 — 8pm

The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£420. Includes all materials, light refreshments and a wine reception at the end of the final session.