Né buone, né finte o false: Fakes, Fabrication and Imitation in Early Modern Dress
Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference
2–4 April 2020
Panel submission deadline: 15 August
Traditionally, historians of dress have argued that those at the lower end of the social hierarchy did not independently engage in fashion, but rather sought to imitate the clothing and style of the elite.
And there was indeed the appropriation of fabrics, garments, trims and accessories normally ascribed to the wealthy by the lower social orders, hence part of the need for sumptuary laws. But people were not just looking up for fashion inspiration; they also looked across social groups, cities, regions and even to distant continents where they found new fibres, textiles, colours, production methods and styles of garments. Goods from afar were imported into different European cities for local consumption, but there were also attempts to replicate or imitate foreign materials, fabrics and finishes. These attempts often resulted in new and novel products, which spurred revisions to sumptuary laws and the need to stipulate that some items, regardless of whether they were ‘good or feigned or fake’, were intended to be off limits to all but a few.
This panel seeks studies of the use and function of fakes, fabrications and imitation in dress and fashion in the early modern world (c. 1500-1700). Papers that consider non-elite dress practices are especially encouraged, as are those by late-stage PhD students and early career researchers. Submissions may consider some of the following questions:
- What role did imitation and/or appropriation play in terms of how, where, when and by whom trends were circulated throughout and beyond neighbourhoods, cities, rural areas, regions and continents in the early modern world?
- What were the social, cultural, financial and/or political motivations behind mimicking the dress of others, whether from different social groups, cities or regions?
- How did the desire to reproduce the look and feel of imported textiles/dyes/materials or to replicate the results of foreign production practices shape local dress and fashion?
- What new and novel products, techniques or dress concepts emerged through attempts to imitate or make substitutions for more costly or difficult to obtain goods?
- How did sumptuary laws, guild regulations and other types of rules and legislation encourage or deter fakes and imitations in relation to the production of textiles, garments and accessories?
- What were the social perceptions of ‘fakes’ (i.e. precious metals, gems, luxury textiles, colorants) and how did these perceptions inform their use in clothing and accessories?
- How can replicas and reconstructions of early modern textiles, dyes, garments, trims and other components of dress support academic research?
If you wish to apply, please send the following items to Michele Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 9 August 2019:
- Paper title (15-word maximum)
- Abstract (150-word maximum)
- Curriculum vitae (.pdf or .doc upload, no longer than 5 pages)
- Phd completion date (past or expected)
- Full name, current affiliation, and email address