RECONSTRUCTING JANE AUSTEN’S SILK PELISSE with Hilary Davidson

Wednesday 26 Jul 2017, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

This lecture examines a silk pelisse, a kind of coat, dated circa 1812–1814, the only known garment associated with Jane Austen (1775–1817), now held by Hampshire Cultural Trust. 

Hilary Davidson took an exact pattern of the pelisse and then made replica garments as a form of investigating such an important author in a new way. She tried to answer questions such as did the pelisse belong to Austen? Who made it? What did it cost? And what can be gleaned from the garment compared with period information about Austen’s appearance?

The talk explores findings about Austen and her world gathered from looking at the material past in a highly detailed way. Questions and insights arising from the process of reproduction are discussed, and the pelisse is compared to other surviving garments, and to contemporary fashionable images. 

HILARY DAVIDSON is a dress and textile historian who was formerly curator of fashion and decorative art at the Museum of London. She has researched Austen-age fashion for a decade and is currently completing a major book on dress in the British Regency world for Yale (2018). Her most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was Dress in the age of Jane Austen (2017).

2017 will mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on 18 July 1817, and this conversation is part of our contribution to the celebration Jane’s creativity and talent.

This lecture is supported by The Friends of The Johnston Collection.

image: replica of a silk pelisse once belonging to Jane Austen, made by Hilary Davidson, 2011

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