Art in Context 3-Part Series | Corsets and Top Hats: History, Fashion, and Art in France

Presented by Annalee Andres, Art Historian

In this special short series, we will look at how fashion has historically played a cultural role indicating both status and rank. From the emergence of Marie Antoinette as a fashion icon in the 18th century to the predominance of bourgeois fashion with its steel hooped skirts, corsets, and top hats during the Second Empire of France, the notion of French “chic” has a rich history that continues to resonate into the present day.

May 15 | Marie Antoinette and the Transformative Role of Fashion
In this lecture, we will look at the emergence of Marie Antoinette as the first fashion icon of the 18th century and how she used fashion to transform the role of the Queen of France which ultimately contributed to dramatic shifts in the perception the of monarchy.
May 22 | French Revolution/Fashion Revolution
During the French Revolution, fashion will play a critical role in the embrace of new ideas. In a more egalitarian world, the excess characteristics of the Ancien Régime will transform into a classical oriented fashion craze. Napoleon’s wife, Joséphine, will emerge as a fashion leader during this era.
May 29 | Corsets and Top Hats: Fashion in the Third Empire
During the Second Empire of France, technical advancements will allow for the emergence of a distinctive, deeply gendered fashion. We will consider the rise of steel hooped crinoline skirts, innovative corsets, and topped hats and how this fashion is depicted in art. Interestingly, these fashion forms are linked to the newly modernized city of Paris which occurred under the rule of Napoleon III and his fashion-conscious wife, Empress Eugénie. The result is a uniquely bourgeois fashion, art, and culture that expresses the desires of the new powerful middle class.

Location: Norma Kershaw Auditorium 
Ticketed Event:
Series package: Member $27 | General $36 PURCHASE TICKETS
Individual lectures: Member or with paid museum admission $9 | General $12 PURCHASE TICKETS


TICKETS: Online or onsite. Questions? E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 714.567.3677. Proceeds benefit Bowers Museum Education Programs. Tickets are non-refundable.

Event details

May 15, 2019 11:00 am - 12:00 pm