Fashion Victims Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

Publication date:
26 Mar 2015
Yale University Press
352 pages: 279 x 229mm
230 color + 20 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

A thoughtful, lavishly illustrated, and highly readable account of the fabulous French fashion world in the pre-Revolutionary period

This engrossing book chronicles one of the most exciting, controversial, and extravagant periods in the history of fashion: the reign of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in 18th-century France. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell offers a carefully researched glimpse into the turbulent era’s sophisticated and largely female-dominated fashion industry, which produced courtly finery as well as promoted a thriving secondhand clothing market outside the royal circle. She discusses in depth the exceptionally imaginative and uninhibited styles of the period immediately before the French Revolution, and also explores fashion’s surprising influence on the course of the Revolution itself. The absorbing narrative demonstrates fashion’s crucial role as a visible and versatile medium for social commentary, and shows the glittering surface of 18th-century high society as well as its seedy underbelly.
Fashion Victims presents a compelling anthology of trends, manners, and personalities from the era, accompanied by gorgeous fashion plates, portraits, and photographs of rare surviving garments. Drawing upon documentary evidence, previously unpublished archival sources, and new information about aristocrats, politicians, and celebrities, this book is an unmatched study of French fashion in the late 18th century, providing astonishing insight, a gripping story, and stylish inspiration.

More about this title

For a look inside Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette visit the YaleBooks blog.

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is an independent scholar.

"Anyone interested in social and political history, in art and in dress, will learn much from this book. It is lively and well-written, with the high-quality design and attention to detail of Yale University Press: the illustrations, including paintings, fashion plates, extant garments and some beautiful textiles, are sumptuous."—Aileen Ribeiro, Art Newspaper

"Illustrated with beautiful images of fashion plates, portraits, and photographs of rare surviving garments, this thoroughly researched book is highly recommended for readers who are interested in the social and costume history of the 18th century."—Library Journal, Starred Review

"18th century France just before the Revolution was a world of unbridled extravagance and stark contrasts. . . . This incisive book gives us a glimpse into the sophisticated fashion industry of the time, as well as insights into the role of fashion in social commentary and during the Revolution itself."—Juanita Coulson, The Lady

". . . as a pithy dissection of fashion's history – a history that undeniably informs the luxury industry today – it makes compelling reading."—Alexander Fury, the Independent

"Scholars from different disciplines and the general public are likely to enjoy this book, as it is both an enjoyable read and one that delves deeply into a topic that can all too easily be trivialised and ridiculed. . . . While the gowns Chrisman-Campbell describes are said to privilege 'surface over substance,' the same criticism does not apply to her book, which has immense worth and depth."—Anne Bissonnette, Burlington

Winner of the 2016 Millia Davenport Publication Award sponsored by the Costume Society of America