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Unit information: Art and Fashion in 2020/21

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Unit name Art and Fashion
Unit code HARTM0042
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Ms. Robles
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


From the theatrical dress of Rembrandt and the exotic textiles and headgear of early modern Magi to the flamboyant costumes of the Ballet Russes and Rodchenko’s boiler-suit, fashion has provided a source of inspiration and site for self-representation for artists. Depicted in art, fashion has been deployed as a tool for self-representation – from Frida Kahlo to Grayson Perry – and as a way to claim, subvert and reclaim power and status.

This unit takes as its starting point the complex relationship between art and fashion across a broad chronology. It will trace the ways in which art and fashion converge to open up themes that may include identity, morality and respectability and the ways in which fashion displays – both in print and in situ – blur the lines between fine art and material culture The unit will also introduce students to texts within the development of fashion theory and raise key art historical questions around fashion, taste, style and self-representation.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a mature critical understanding of the development of the relationship between art and fashion;
  2. evaluate the changing ways in which the relationship between art and fashion may be viewed over time;
  3. analyse theoretical issues presented in studying the relationship between art and fashion;
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to advance a cogent argument in a research-led essay;
  5. evaluate, analyse, synthese and (where apt) critique material and ideas appropriate to level M/7;
  6. demonstrate independent thinking about the complex ways that art and fashion converge.

Teaching details

1 x two-hour interactive lecture per week and

1 x one-hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

One 5000-word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-6]

Reading and References

Carol Tulloch, The Birth of Cool: Style Narratives of the African Diaspora (London: Bloomsbury, 2016)

Nancy J. Troy, Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003)

David A Bailey and Gilane Tawadros (eds), Veil: Veiling, Representation and Contemporary Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003)

Aileen Ribeiro, Clothing Art: The Visual Culture of Fashion, 1600-1914 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016)

Ulinka Rublack, Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Marieke de Winkel, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt's Paintings (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006)