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Fashion Victims


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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: Death by Fashion in Fact and Fiction 1. Diseased Dress: Germ Warfare 2. Toxic Techniques: Mercurial Hats 3. Poisonous Pigments: Arsenical Greens 4. Dangerous Dyes: A Pretty, Deadly Rainbow 5. Entangled and Strangled: Caught in the Machine 6. Inflammatory Fabrics: Flaming Tutus and Combustible Crinolines 7. Explosive Fakes: Plastic Combs and Artificial Silk Conclusion: The Afterlife of Fashion Victims Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

A beautifully illustrated and gruesome history of fashion, illness, injury and death by dress.

About the Author

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


David offers up gruesome examples that lend weight to a compelling, but never hectoring, polemic. In its own understated way, Fashion Victims provides an excoriating critique of early industrial capitalism. And it makes for a gripping (if sometimes meandering) read, often fascinatingly queer and curious ... This is an earnest and important book, generously illustrated and full of interest, retrieving heart-sinking horror from the historical record, and signposting a future that remains immensely troubling. -- Shahidha Bari * Times Higher Education *
An innovative take on "killer style" ... Fascinatingly macabre. * Financial Times *
Carefully researched and beautifully illustrated. * Daily Mail (Book of the Week) *
[A] brilliantly illustrated and fascinating book. * Scotland on Sunday (Spectrum) *
The book's breezy narrative and lavish design make it a delight for any reader ... With its shocking revelations and entertaining stories, all illustrated in glorious Technicolor, Fashion Victims is a history to die for. * Literary Review *
Alison Matthews David has brass-tackled the subject [of fashion victims] ... [She has] shown in gruesome detail many fashions that did - and still could - hasten their wearers to an untimely death. * The Spectator *
Fashion Victims is certainly an eye-opener ... Readers will no doubt ... appreciate the images and historic prints included in this handsome and well-researched book. * The Artist's Chronicle *
Meticulously researched and referenced, filled with interesting historical facts and anecdotes, Dr. Alison Matthews David narrates this dark journey through clothing with authority and precision that is light and joyful to read. Fantastic frock pictures and gruesome medical illustrations along with paintings, photographs and fashion plates help to bring the story alive. * ADDRESS: Journal for Fashion Criticism *
Fashion Victims is a compelling and thought-provoking book with a great selection of illustrations. Matthews David has succeeded in creating an accessible academic text and important historical work, which dress historians will find invaluable. * The Journal of Dress History *
[A] beautifully illustrated, accessible and highly thoughtful study. * History Today *
Combining narrative verve with a brilliant selection of pictures, Fashion Victims is both an engaging read and a 'useable history'. Meticulously researched, it wears its academic credentials lightly, and the story it tells is at once entertaining and startling. Fashion history will never seem quite the same again. * Caroline Evans, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, UK *
No book explores fashion as a seductive pleasure that kills like Alison Matthews David's Fashion Victims. With contaminated cloth, mercury-laden fur and toxic dyestuffs, poisoned fashion silently claims its victims - makers and wearers. This panoramic work outlines the hazardous substances used in fashion, both past and present. * Tanya Williams Wetenhall, The George Washington University, USA *
In this provocative and beautifully-illustrated volume, Alison Matthews David spans past and present, producers and consumers, Europe and the United States, to explore the many ways that fashionable clothing and accessories harmed and sometimes killed. A fascinating read and essential backdrop to concerns about today's globalized textile and garment production. * Clare H. Crowston, University of Illinois, USA *
A highly engaging and thought-provoking book. Informative, entertaining and unsettling, Fashion Victims is a history of death by dress for fashionistas and scholars alike. Read it! * Susan J. Vincent, University of York, UK *
Alison Matthews David's Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present examines fashion's fearful past, when crinolines were a serious fire hazard (Oscar Wilde's half-sisters found out the hard way) and the aniline dye in eyelash and eyebrow tinting was blinding style-savvy users. -- Alison Nastasi * Flavorwire *
Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present is not only a smartly written, in-depth and deeply interesting book, it is also an important work of historical research and sobering account of some of the very real, very deadly dangers that have lurked - and continue, in certain cases, to reside - in our closets and places of clothing manufacturing alike. * Chronically Vintage *
Fashion historian David (Ryerson Univ., Toronto) examines how clothing caused death, disease, and madness during the 19th and early 20th centuries in France and North America, transmitting contagious diseases, emitting chemical toxins, and catching fire... compelling and sometimes disturbing ... does make a case for reexamining our fashion consumption in the 21st century and how that consumption hurts the environment and people, especially those in developing countries where most apparel is now produced. * Library Journal *
Focusing on the mid-1700s to the 1930s, the book is an astonishing and sometimes gory account of the ways in which clothing has killed, either by accident, by design, or through treacherous manufacturing conditions. This dark history is presented alongside a series of illustrations from the era, which show just how dangerous dressing could be. * Atlas Obscura *
David's publication begs that we collectively examine the lengths we will go to for personal style ... David probes this idea, noting that fashion has long been a marker of social status as well as moral compass, two things that were taken very seriously in times like the 19th century. Even today this still rings true, as we still make judgments about a person's values based on their clothing choice, and luxury clothing and labels still act as a status signifier to separate us. Though we have moved past the times of arsenic imbued garments and lethal dyes, David also notes the deadly dangers of the creation of fashion of today. Workers in unsafe conditions with little other options but to take jobs working long hours doing the same thing day-in and day-out, with disastrous long-term effects, are not looked over by David. * Visionaire *
Laden with colorful pictures, artwork, articles, newspaper clippings, and ads, Fashion Victims puts it all on the table in its artful and intelligent layout ... the book is excellent for history enthusiasts and a must-have for anyone with an interest in fashion. * Please Pass the Books *
We think of drop dead gorgeous clothes as deadly only for our wallets. But they can kill. And have ... From hats laced in mercury to entangled scarves and easily inflammable fabric Matthews-David reveals the darkest side of fashion ... Half-terrifying, half-fascinating, Fashion Victims is an eye-opener ... beautifully illustrated too. * Beautiful with Brains, "4 New Fashion Books Every Fashionista Should Read This Fall" *
The graphic design is impeccable ... Filled with colorful images, references to all collections, documents and works consulted, it is clear that the research has received well-deserved treatment from its editors. (Bloomsbury translation) * Historia: Questoes & Debates *

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