A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing by Rachel Silberstein

English | June 30, 2020 | ISBN: 0295747188 | True PDF | 296 pages | 20.5 MB

Clothing and accessories from nineteenth-century China reveal much about women’s participation in the commercialization of textile handicrafts and the flourishing of urban popular culture. Focusing on women’s work and fashion, A Fashionable Century presents an array of visually compelling clothing and accessories neglected by traditional histories of Chinese dress, examining these products’ potential to illuminate issues of gender and identity.
In the late Qing, the expansion of production systems and market economies transformed the Chinese fashion system, widening access to fashionable techniques, materials, and imagery. Challenging the conventional production model, in which women embroidered items at home, Silberstein sets fashion within a process of commercialization that created networks of urban guilds, commercial workshops, and subcontracted female workers. These networks gave rise to new trends influenced by performance and prints, and they offered women opportunities to participate in fashion and contribute to local economies and cultures.
Rachel Silberstein draws on vernacular and commercial sources, rather than on the official and imperial texts prevalent in Chinese dress history, to demonstrate that in these fascinating objectsӉۢregulated by market desires, rather than imperial edictӉۢfashion formed at the intersection of commerce and culture.
A Fashionable Century is the winner of the Costume Society of America’s Millia Davenport Publication Award and was long-listed for the Textile Society of America’s R. L. Shep Award. The judges described the book as “an extraordinary achievement in scholarship working with source materials that are little-known outside of China and not otherwise available in English.”