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more than a mere functional matter ofclothing. It is an expression of theindividual wearer's tastes and desires,and also of changing moods in widersociety. Against the backdrop of war,fashion was unsurprisingly a vehicle forthe country's feelings of nationalism andpatriotism. From 1790, an infusion ofstylish militaristic trimmings could be seenin both men's and even women's dress. Even more marked in its impact uponcontemporary imagination and design,however, was the influence ofneoclassicism. The classical revival thathad wrought such great changes inarchitecture and art was by around 1795starting to make its mark on fashion,where its appeal was both ideologicaland aesthetic. The French Revolutionhad inspired interest in the democraticpolitics and principles of the ancientcivilisations of Rome and Greece. TheEmpire Style, as it was known underNapoleon, echoed this passion forantiquity. Chemise gowns epitomisedclassical styling with high waistlines, lownecklines and flimsy, free-flowingdrapery of soft white muslins, seeking toemulate Grecian and Roman statuary. What could be seen as a 'feminisation'of women's clothing was equallymatched by a relaxation of style andemerging informality of dress. The boldcolours, sumptuous fabrics, elaboratedetail and aristocratic accessories suchas wigs and powder that hadcharacterised mid-18th century fashionswere being rejected in favour of restraintand even modesty. The desirable idealwas now a measure of careless elegance,expressed by flowing lines, simplicity,and excellence in cut and tailoring. Asterror and war raged across the Channel,this less formal, yet more sombre styleof dress was seen to champion theEnglish characteristics and 'virtues' ofdemocracy and indeed rationalism. FASHION LECTURE SERIESIn conjunction with theexhibition, Fairfax House isrunning a two-part fashionlecture series:Wednesday 28 September:Ridicules and Indispensibles:Fashion and a war of wordsin late Georgian England byBarbara BurmanFriday 7 October:An air of elegance andfashion: Dress in theAge of Austen by Hilary Davidson of theMuseum of LondonThe Industrial Revolution was naturallyfertile ground for sartorial change andcontributed fundamentally to thestylistically and technologically innovativecharacter of fashion during this period. Italso intersected with social revolution toproduce a growing informality andegalitarianism of dress. Advances inmachine textile production and printingtechniques increased the availability ofnew materials and fashionable textilesfor a wider public. The ordinary personnow had access to an array ofattractive dress fabrics at an affordableprice. Opening in August, RevolutionaryFashion will explore these sweepingpolitical, economic and technologicalinfluences impacting on taste, styleand production. Drawing upon keycollections from around the country,Fairfax House will be bringing to lighta swathe of exquisite items, includingshoes, fans, headwear andaccessories, from the vibrant anddashing Regency period that haverarely been seen in the public realm.The fashions will be on displaythroughout Fairfax House, givingmutual context to both the items of dress and the room settings. Revolutionary Fashion,Fairfax House, York; 27 August -31 December2011; Tel: 01904 655543,www.fairfaxhouse.co.ukLeft:Whitecotton openfronted dress,hand paintedwith floraldesign, withgreen silkbodice front,sleeves and 17covered buttons,round neck with originaldraw tapes; c1790 - 1795www.nadfas.org.ukNADFAS REVIEW / AUTUMN 201147All images: © Olive Matthews Collection, Chertsey Museum. Photograph by John Chase / V&A Museum

48 NADFAS REVIEW / AUTUMN 2011