ABSTRACT

Apparel and costumes have long been the preferential subject of study by fashion and dress historians alike. Research has mainly addressed the different types of clothes worn; the evolution of tastes in male and female fashion; the quality and design of materials; the use of certain decorations, embroidery, jewellery; and so on. This scholarship has been framed within the study of decorative arts and has often been published as museum and exhibition catalogs. 2 In recent years, however, fashion and its evolution are increasingly being explored as a social institution in tandem with the gradual growth of consumerism, creating what Professor M. Belfanti has termed “civiltà della moda.” 3 This new focus analyzes how fashion has evolved in its historical context. Fashion, indeed, marked differences between social groups, with some deploying it as a symbol of power and distinction.