Why did men from Spain to Sweden start to shave their heads and wear someone else’s hair in the mid-seventeenth century? Why did women decide that it was necessary to wear masks and other full-face coverings in public towards the end of the century? What was the economic and social impact of the sudden proliferation of ribbon-making machines?

Funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA), this project takes fashion seriously, asking the simple question: how and why did certain goods such as wigs, new textiles, ribbons, ruffs and lace become successful in early mod­ern Europe while others failed? How far did these goods travel and how were they transmitted across linguistic, social and ge­ographic borders? These are questions that remain relevant and our project demonstrates how a study of creativity and innovation as an economic and cultural force in the past can help our understanding of the same issues today. In doing so, we will create a new interdisciplinary European community of academics, museum curators and fashion and design professionals. We will work together to consider creativity, innovation and fashion in all its aspects from 1500-1800, its display in museum settings and its relevance to contemporary policy, legal practices and to the designers and manufacturers of today’s fashionable goods.

Over the next three years we will hold workshops and conferences, provide information that will feed into exhibitions and museum displays, produce web-trails and web-discussions as well as producing a series of books, essays and articles. Divided into five themes, we will be exploring fashion networks, new technologies, patents and protec­tion; the designer and the merchant: names, reputations and the language of innovation; print-culture and fashion products; social groups and the circulation of fashion; and creative traditions: knitting in Europe, 1500-1800.

We will be working closely with museums with internationally renowned collections of fash­ion and textiles including the Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, the Danish Museum of Art and Design, the Danish National Museum and the Danish Open Air Museum and the Nordiska museet and the Royal Armouries, Stockholm.

Knowledge Transfer Activities

  • Cultural heritage institutions, fashion and design professionals
  • Input into major exhibitions held by the APs
  • Impact on the contemporary designers inspired by the Early Modern fashion
  • Workshops and conferences with a training aspect bringing together early career scholars, curators and designers, streamlined and podcast for wider audience
  • A database of material objects, visual and documentary evidence
  • Web-trails on fashion transmission in early modern Europe

Project Partners / Principal Investigators

Project Leader / Principal Investigator 1:

Professor Evelyn Welch, Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom.

Principal Investigator 2:

Dr Lesley Miller, Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom.

Principal Investigator 3:

Professor Peter McNeil, Stockholm University, Sweden & University of Technology Sydney, Australia.

Principal Investigator 4:

Dr Paula Hohti, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Principal Investigator 5:

Professor Marie-Louise Nosch, Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Principal Investigator 6:

Ph.D. Maj Ringgaard, National Museum of Denmark (NMD), Denmark.

Non-Academic Associated Partners

Associated Partner 1:

Mr Paul Ormerod, Volterra Consulting, United Kingdom.

Associated Partner 2:

Ph.D. Mikkel Venborg Pedersen, National Museum of Denmark, Denmark.

Associated Partner 3:

Professor Kirsten Toftegaard, Danish Museum of Art and Design, Denmark.

Associated Partner 4:

Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen, Den Gamle By, National Open Air Museum of Urban Culture, Denmark.

Associated Partner 5:

Pernilla Rasmussen, Lund University, Sweden.

Associated Partner 6:

Ann Grönhammar, Livrustkammaren (Royal Armouries), Sweden.

Associated Partner 7:

Professor Birgitta Svensson, Nordiska Museet, Sweden.

External Advisory Committee Members

Professor John Styles (EAC Chair), University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.

Professor Spyros Maniatis, Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom.

Dr Luca Molà, Warwick University, United Kingdom.

Professor Klas Nyberg, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Dr Mikkel Venborg Pedersen, National Museum of Denmark, Denmark.

Dr Giorgio Riello, Warwick University, United Kingdom.

Professor Birgitta Svensson, Nordiska Museet, Sweden.

Kirsten Toftegaard, The Danish Museum of Art & Design, Denmark.

Professor Amanda Vickery, Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom.

The project “Fashioning the Early Modern: Creativity and Innovation in Europe,21500-1800” is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme ( which is co-funded by AHRC, AKA, DASTI, ETF, FNR, FWF, HAZU, IRCHSS, MHEST, NWO, RANNIS, RCN, VR and The European Community FP7 2007-2013, under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities programme.

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