Olga Vainshtein

Senior Researcher, Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow.   

I have written on history of Dandyism and male costume, beauty and gender, fashion and body and recently – about the use of Photoshop in fashion photography and about semiotics of fashion in Edith Wharton’s novels. In 2006 I founded the Russian version of Fashion Theory journal. My current research interests are focused around fashion and fiction.  

For this project I am exploring intersections between Fashion and Literature.  I aim to examine how literature as artistic medium reinterprets fashion. Fashion in fiction is frequently analyzed as a social monitor for taste and status, but literature has its own discursive peculiarities. My goal is to gain insight into the ways literature can translate and reconfigure the development of fashion itself. 

My main case study deals with Lord Fauntleroy suit – a particular trend in the history of late nineteenth – early twentieth century fashion for boys. I am looking at the impact of the outfit worn by Little Lord Fauntleroy in the 1886 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The book was illustrated by Reginald Birch. His illustrations had a decisive influence on children’s fashion of the period, and I am interested to investigate how this style was received in society, what was its origin and what happened to this fashion trend later.