Theme 1: Fashion networks, technologies, patents and protection

Principal Investigator 01: Evelyn Welch


A courtisan from "The Cryes of the City of London Drawne after the Life", after Marcellus Laroon II, published in London, 1688, Pierce Tempest (British Museum)

Mentre chioma gentil volge gli anelli (Hair dresser in an interior), Charles Joseph Flipart, published in Venice by Guiseppe Wagner in 1737-1750 (British Museum)

James Sayers, The interior of a barber's shop, published by Thomas Cornell in 1783 (British Museum)


Research Context, Research Questions

Webtrails: Objects in Focus

Webtrails: Fashioning Goods

Knowledge Exchange


Data Collection (material objects, visual sources, textual sources)


Research Context, Research Questions


Read Full Description here.

This theme explores how new products (such as perfumes) were regularly invented within the domestic setting, but were also produced in courts, pharmacies, monasteries and specialist shops and then quickly disseminated. It asks how the creation and marketing of ‘branded’ scents such as Neroli fragrances developed in sixteenth-century France and Italy became fashionable in both northern and southern Europe; or how other products such as the folding fan, unknown before the sixteenth century in Europe, became ubiquitous. To answer these questions we will analyse the legal, social, demographic, technological support needed for the successful dissemination of new products and examine the resistance to their integration and use elsewhere. For example, the ruff (whose popularity was thought have caused grain famines due the ingredients required for starching) was adopted across most of Europe, but to a much lesser extent in parts of Italy; the full face mask for women was used in 17th-century England and Italy, but not in Sweden or Denmark; hand- knitted stockings were considered luxury items in Denmark where the use of the kitting frame seems to have been regarded as problematic. The wig, in contrast, became an essential part of menswear not only across Europe but also in the colonies. Why? What impact did the shifting adaptation of fashionable wares have in terms of employment and innovation? What levels of capital investment were required, what types of training, apprenticeship systems were needed to sustain new products? What legal infrastructure supported or suppressed innovation? What was the impact of patent systems which developed in Italy and France in the sixteenth centuries and then much later in Britain and Scandinavia? Can we relate the early system of trademarks (as evidence by Southern v. How which was heard in England in 1618) to the protection of a brand?


Webtrails: Objects in Focus

An amazing find of an Elizebethan vizard mask


Webtrails: Fashioning Goods

The Fan

The Wig – coming soon


Knowledge Exchange (Workshops)

Handling Objects: viewing knitted objects from the V & A collections (Theme 1, 2)

Research Outcomes: report from Workshop 1 (Theme 1, 2)


Selected Publications (project years 1, 2, 3)

”Objects of Fashion in the Renaissance”, in: The Fashion History Reader: Global Perspectives, McNeil, P.K. & Riello, G. (eds)., Routledge, London and New York, 2010, p.pp. 81 – 83.


Data Collection

Data Collection on Fashioning Goods: Theme 1

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