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From insidious murder weapons to blaze-igniting crinolines, clothing has been the cause of death, disease and madness throughout history, by accident and design. Clothing is designed to protect, shield and comfort us, yet lurking amongst seemingly innocuous garments we find hats laced with mercury, frocks laden with arsenic and literally ‘drop-dead gorgeous’ gowns.
Fabulously gory and gruesome, Fashion Victims takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the lethal history of women’s, men’s and children’s dress, in myth and reality. Drawing upon surviving fashion objects and numerous visual and textual sources, encompassing louse-ridden military uniforms, accounts of the fiery deaths of Oscar Wilde’s half-sisters and dancer Isadora Duncan’s accidental strangulation by her long, fringed scarf; the book explores how garments have tormented those who made and wore them, and harmed animals and the environment in the process. Vividly chronicling evidence from Greek mythology to the present day, Matthews David puts everyday apparel under the microscope and unpicks the dark side of fashion.
Lavishly illustrated with over 100 images, Fashion Victims is a remarkable resource for everyone from scholars and students to fashion enthusiasts.
Introduction: Death by Fashion in Fact and Fiction • Diseased Dress: Germ Warfare • Toxic Techniques: Mercurial Hats • Poisonous Pigments: Arsenical Greens • Dangerous Dyes: A Pretty, Deadly Rainbow • Entangled and Strangled: Caught in the Machine • Inflammatory Fabrics: Flaming Tutus and Combustible Crinolines • Explosive Fakes: Plastic Combs and Artificial Silk • Conclusion: The Afterlife of Fashion Victims • Bibliography • Index