Join us for a virtual conversation with Elizabeth L. Block, PhD, author of Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion (MIT Press). Learn how wealthy American women—as consumers and as influencers—helped shape French couture of the late nineteenth century.
French fashion of the late nineteenth century is known for its allure, its ineffable chic—think of John Singer Sargent's Madame X and her scandalously slipping strap. For Parisian couturiers and their U.S. customers, it was also serious business. In Dressing Up, Elizabeth Block examines the couturiers' influential clientele—wealthy women in the United States who bolstered the French fashion industry with a steady stream of orders. Countering the usual narrative of the designer as solo creative genius, Block shows that these women—as high-volume customers and as pre-Internet influencers—were active participants in the era's transnational fashion system.