Books from Our Faculty: The History of Modern Fashion

Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

In The History of Modern Fashion, Costume Studies Program Director Nancy Deihl and faculty member Daniel James Cole, reinforce this claim in the most comprehensive history ever published on fashion from the mid-19th century to the present day.

Sumptuous illustrations and photographs are paired with a decade-by-decade chronological narrative, where Deihl and Cole’s deep scholarship provide a historical context for trends that may seem baffling today.  Old-fashioned clothing of the late 19th century – hoop-skirts, restrictive corsetry, tailored coats and stiff top hats – incorporated the latest in technology at the time:  new dyes, innovated construction methods and industrial garment product.

The story begins in the 1850s, when the sewing machine was patented, revolutionizing the industry.  It spawned the development of the designer system, which laid the foundation for the designers and brands integral to today’s fashion marketplace.  Womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear evolve through the prism of various events and contexts, including the relationship between fashion and the arts; the intertwined relationship between fashion and popular culture; the impact of new materials and technology; and the growing globalization of style.