Modernizing Costume Design, 1820–1920  book cover
1st Edition

Modernizing Costume Design, 1820–1920

ISBN 9780367561161
Published May 6, 2022 by Routledge
168 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Annie Holt identifies the roots of contemporary Euro-American practices of costume design, in which costumes are an integrated part of the dramaturgy rather than a reflection of an individual performer’s taste or status. She argues that in the period 1820–1920, as part of the larger project of modernism across the artistic and cultural field, the functions of "clothing" and "costume" diverged. Onstage apparel took on a more specific semiotic task, acting as a fresh channel for the flow of information between the performer, the literary text, and the spectator.

Modernizing Costume Design traces how five kinds of artists – directors, performers, writers, couturiers, and painters – made key contributions to this new model of costume design. Holt shows that by 1920, costume design shifted in status from craft to art.

Table of Contents


List of Images


Chapter 1 - Introduction: arguing costume design

Chapter 2 - Material Truths: directors, historicism, and Shakespearean designs

Chapter 3 - Frocks and Fictions: actresses, personae, and costume design

Chapter 4 - Writing the Modern Body: the queerness of costume stage directions

Chapter 5 - Life Imitates Art: couture, costumes, and commercialism

Chapter 6 - Body as Art(ifact) or Machine: visual artists design for the Ballets Russes

Chapter 7 - Postlude: designing modernism

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Annie Holt is Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Philosophy, University of Central Oklahoma, USA. Her research focuses on costume design and embodiment, including articles in Studies in Costume and Performance, Theatre and Performance Design, and Mime Journal.