Dress Talks: Crossing Boundaries: Dress and Exclusion in Italy, 1550-1650

Detail, Pietro della Vecchia (1603-78), A fortune-teller reading the palm of a soldier. Oil on canvas (Wellcome Library, London

Join us for a talk by Elizabeth Currie this Friday, 10 November. Elizabeth will discuss dress and deviancy in early modern Italy, from the perspectives of the fashionable elite to others at the social margins.

The typical black attire of the Italian nobleman represented an ideal of restraint and sobriety. Other styles that strayed from this model were often denounced, particularly the kind of flamboyance usually associated with soldiers: leather, feathers, and slashed, figure-hugging garments.  How did this impulse to regulate clothing change in the context of groups of ‘outsiders’, increasingly prominent in visual imagery from this period, such as fortune tellers or beggars?

Drawing on contemporary debates on morality, etiquette, and health, the talk will investigate why specific types of dress were vilified and considered to pose a threat. It will highlight clothing’s power to bind together communities as well as to disrupt gender identities and social hierarchies.


Elizabeth Currie
 is a lecturer and author specialising in the history of early modern dress, fashion and textiles.  She currently teaches at the Royal College of Art/V&A and Central St Martins. Her articles have appeared in Fashion TheoryRenaissance Studies, and the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Recent publications include Fashion and Masculinity in Renaissance Florence (2016) and (ed.) A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion, Vol. 3: Fashion in the Renaissance (1450-1650) (2017), as well as contributions to the Bloomsbury Visual Arts blog, Gucci Stories, and Apollo online.

Friday, 10 November 2017 at 12:30 pm in The Courtauld Research Forum Seminar Room 
Open to all, free admission. No advance booking required.