Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present

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From insidious murder weapons to blaze-igniting crinolines, clothing has been the cause of death, disease and madness throughout history, by accident and design. Clothing is designed to protect, shield and comfort us, yet lurking amongst seemingly innocuous garments we find hats laced with mercury, frocks laden with arsenic and literally 'drop-dead gorgeous' gowns.

Fabulously gory and gruesome, Fashion Victims takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the lethal history of women's, men's and children's dress, in myth and reality. Drawing upon surviving fashion objects and numerous visual and textual sources, encompassing louse-ridden military uniforms, accounts of the fiery deaths of Oscar Wilde's half-sisters and dancer Isadora Duncan's accidental strangulation by entangled scarf; the book explores how garments have tormented those who made and wore them, and harmed animals and the environment in the process. Vividly chronicling evidence from Greek mythology to the present day, Matthews David puts everyday apparel under the microscope and unpicks the dark side of fashion.

Fashion Victims is lavishly illustrated with over 125 images and is a remarkable resource for everyone from scholars and students to fashion enthusiasts.

About the Author

Alison Matthews David is Associate Professor in the School of Fashion, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

"Get your hands on a copy. It's fantastic." - Rachel E. Pollock, La Bricoleuse

"The book does an excellent job of storytelling by combining examples of popular culture from each relevant era as a contrast to the more serious accounts of the clothing-related health threats that were occurring at the time." - Fashion, Society & Popular Culture

Publisher: Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Pub date:
240 pages
Format: Paperback