Fashion and fiction

Authored by Christine Davies


Last weekend I happened to be in London at the right time and place to catch some of the Trans Pride March, where it was overwhelming how much clothing played a role on this political platform for championing human rights. People were costumed or dressed to the nines, the whole point being to express their identities – loud and proud. On a rather more pedestrian scale, this is something we all do, whether we’re readying ourselves for a job interview or heading out out with our besties.

This fashion and fiction display plays with the idea that fashion can be a creative outlet for self-fashioning a narrative of identity, and it also seeks to recommend titles of fiction in which clothing plays a significant part in characterisation or plot.

From the birth of the novel, with Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, dress has been used both to express character and subject to distortion – that is, the ambiguity of sartorial meaning allows for diverse and sometimes conflicting interpretations. In the case of Pamela, her homespun dress signifies her servant class status whilst it simultaneously occasions the interest of her master and her ultimate ascension to the ranks of Fashion.

You don’t need to be an eighteenth century-ist, however, to engage with this display. There’s plenty of coffee table books as well as films of fashion to delight as well. And perhaps there’s something missing that you’d like to see – in which case, let us know in the comments below! Or tag us if you get inspired to dress up.

Come into the library to enjoy the titles (throughout July and August) in the Welcome Hall and Love to Read area in the Library Cafe, you can also view them online here

Happy Browsing!


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