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Colors in Fashion

Colors in Fashion

Color speaks a powerful cultural language, conveying political, sexual, and economic messages that, throughout history, have revealed how we relate to ourselves and our world. This ground-breaking compilation is the first to investigate how color in fashionable and ceremonial dress has played a significant social role, indicating acceptance and exclusion, convention and subversion.

From white used for pioneering feminism to the penchant for black in post-war France, and from mystical scarlet broadcloth to the horrors of arsenic-laden green fashion, this publication demonstrates that color in dress is never straightforward and is as mutable, nuanced, and varied as color itself. Divided into four thematic parts – solidarity, power, innovation, and desire – each section highlights the often violent, emotional histories of color in dress across geographical, temporal and cultural boundaries. Underlying today's relaxed attitude to color lies a chromatic complexity that speaks of wars, migrations and economics.

While acknowledging the importance that technology has played in the development of new dyes, the chapters explore color as a catalyst for technical innovation that continues to inspire designers, artists, and performers. Bringing together cutting-edge contributions from leading scholars, it is essential reading for academics of fashion, textiles, design, cultural studies and art history.


Section One: Color and Solidarity

Chapter 1. Color as Theme in the Ebony Fashion Fair

Chapter 2. Purity and Parity: The White Dress of the Suffrage Movement in Early Twentieth-Century Britain

Chapter 3. Birds of the Same “Color” Flock Together: Color as Expression of Identity and Solidarity in Aso-Ebi Cloth of the Yoruba

Chapter 4. Contradictory Colors: Tricolor in Vichy France’s Fashion Culture

Section Two: Color and Power

Chapter 5. Dress and Color at the Thai Court

Chapter 6. “Gold and Silver by Night.” Queen Alexandra: A Life in Color

Chapter 7. Lord Boston’s Court Uniform: A Story of Color, Politics, and the Psychology of Belonging

Chapter 8. Yellow is the New Red, or Clothing the Recession and How the Shade of Shame Became Chic

Section Three: Color and Innovation

Chapter 9. Color before Technicolor: Colorized Fashion Films of the Silent Era

Chapter 10. Color as Concept: From International Klein Blue to Viktor & Rolf’s “Bluescreen”

Chapter 11. Tainted Love: Oscar Wilde’s Toxic Green Carnation, Queerness, and Chromophobia

Chapter 12. Starlit Skies Blue versus Durindone Blue

Section Four: Color and Desire

Chapter 13. Rough Wolves in the Sheepcote: The Meanings of Fashionable Color, 1900–1914

Chapter 14. “Le Noir Étant la Dominante de Notre Vêture …”: The Many Meanings of the Color Black in Postwar Paris

Chapter 15. British Scarlet Broadcloth, the Perfect Red in Eastern Africa, c.1820–1885

Chapter 16. Lives Lived: An Archaeology of Faded Indigo

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