Poplin & Paper:
Four Centuries of Fashion in Print
18 May — 9 September 2015
The term “fashion plate” is layered with meanings. It is a portrait depicting an outfit that a clothier can supply. It is also frequently used to describe someone who wears the latest styles. But a plate is also a printing term, describing an illustration transferred to paper during the printing process.
This exhibition explores the evolution of these relationships among fashion and print, ideas and images, and their producers and consumers. The exhibition begins with early modern surveys of national costumes, which sought to codify the diverse cultures that Europeans encountered around the world. It then traces emerging relationships among fashion plates and the periodical press, commercialism and the performing arts, and the subsequent evolution of various communities of readers and consumers. It culminates in the emergence of fashion photography, a new medium of expression for fashion in print that still shapes and responds to its viewers today.
—Anna Chen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts