1st Edition

Modernizing Costume Design, 1820–1920

By Annie Holt Copyright 2021
    168 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    168 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    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.


    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


    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.