A much-needed overview of aspects of fashion history and how to understand it with clear, jargon-free text to help all lay readers, collectors, as well as students of fashion history. The author is a leading authority on fashion history with experience as a writer, teacher and curator. Illustrated throughout with plates, photographs, paintings and drawings, the book is divided up into the following chapters: What is dress, and how and why is it studied? Theories of dress and fashion and how they have evolved; Collections of dress and textiles and their importance as a source of information about social and technological change; Dress in art and dress as art; Dress as an indicator of role and status; Dress and cultural imperialism: absorption of non-Western ideas in fabric and the imposition of Western dress in preference to indigenous styles.
Valerie Cumming is a lecturer and writer. She has also been Costume and Textiles curator at Chertsey Museum, the Museum of London and the Court Dress Collection, Kensington Palace (for 10 years). She is the former Deputy Director of the Museum of London, and was visiting lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1997. She is the author of six books on costume as well as numerous articles, catalogue entries, essays and reviews. Valerie lives in London.