2014 Georgian Studies Symposium

Fashion, Function & Ornament: accessorising the long eighteenth century

Friday 19 September 2014 at York Hilton Hotel and Fairfax House

In fashion the term ‘accessory’ covers a wide range of items such as gloves, sashes, reticules, spectacles, watches, parasols, and potentially many other articles. Accessories can be seen as marginal to the nature of fashion, but historically they have played a key role in shaping the character of men’s and women’s fashions, combining ornament and function and giving scope for the expression of individual and collective identities. The late Stuart to the early-Victorian period saw the accessory achieve new prominence as a fashion statement, an expression of wealth, status and taste, and a desirable object of consumption, possession and display.

This symposium aims to bring together interested parties from curatorial, conservation, academic and other backgrounds with an interest in fashion, textiles, clothing and related topics to explore the nature and significance of accessories in the history of fashion from c.1660 to c.1840. Relevant topics to be addressed in contributions to the symposium may include (but would certainly not be limited to) the gender, class and identity dimensions of the accessory, collecting and collections cultures of consumerism and consumption, style, fashion and ornament, exoticism and the antique in accessory design and ornament, and the accessory in the visual and literary culture of the ‘long eighteenth century’.

This event is taking place in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Head to Toe: Accessorising the Georgians 1720-1820’ held at Fairfax House from March to November 2014.



Nigel Arch (former Director, Kensington Palace, Historic Royal Palaces) A Great Deal of Finery: Accessorising the Georgian courtier



Kate Anderson (Senior Curator, National Galleries of Scotland) The Painted Pearl: the cultural significance of pearl jewellery, as depicted in the portraits of the long eighteenth century

Rachel Boak (Senior Curator, Waddesdon Manor, Rothschild Collections) A penchant for the eighteenth century: Baroness Edmond de Rothschild (1853-1935) as a collector of accessories 

Mary M. Brooks (Director, MA International Cultural Heritage Management, Durham University) ‘What was most chaste she loved best’: exploring accessories to cover and protect in 17th-century England

Alison Fairhurst (Textile Conservator & PhD Candidate, University of Lincoln)   How to read a shoe: a guide to making the most of women’s shoes of the eighteenth century

Dr Maryam Farahani (University of Liverpool)  The Orient in Western fashion: otherness dressing melancholy portraits

Elisabeth Gernerd (PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh)   Agents of expression: Embroidered and satin print muffs

Dawn Hoskin (Assistant Curator of Europe 1600-1800, Victoria & Albert Museum, London) ‘All the Conversation here at present turns upon the Balloons’ A ‘BALLOONMANIA’ HANDKERCHIEF OF 1783

Alison Larkin Captain Cook’s waistcoat: questions on recreating history

Helen Metcalfe (History PhD Candidate, University of Manchester)  At home with the Georgian bachelor: accessories, performance, and masculine identity

Elizabeth Spencer (University of York)  The apron in the eighteenth century: representation and reality

Susan Vincent (University of York)  Ogling, quizzing and spying: the eighteenth-century eyeglass

Nel Whiting (PhD Candidate, University of Dundee)  ‘In’s PLAID arry’d’: unpicking the threads of Francis Charteris’s tartan