Today I would like to give you advance notice of a conference to be organised by Serena Dyer and which is to be held at the University of York’s Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the historic Kings Manor in the very heart of the city.

It will take place on Saturday 23rd June from 9.30 until 5.00p.m.

Serena, as you know, is the owner of the Dressing History website, and makes wonderful recreations of historic costumes. On her blog she tells us a little of what we can expect of the conference:

This day conference brings together academic and curatorial work on the desire to dress fashionably in the eighteenth century. From faces to feet, the fashionable men and women of the eighteenth century strove to achieve aesthetic perfection. This series of papers explores the process of fashion dissemination, production and consumption which enabled the fulfilment of these desires, and how this related to the concepts of desire, gender and beauty. The papers to be presented cover subjects such as cosmetics and beauty, fashion plates, silk manufacture and the relationship between dressmaker and client. A small exhibition of fashion plates and accessories from the period will accompany the conference.

Serena, who is studying at York, will be giving a talk on  ‘A Beautiful Bargain: Lady Sabine Winn’s relationship with fashion’

The others speakers will include Professor Aileen Ribeiro of the Courtauld Institute, talking on Desiring Beauty: women and cosmetics in the eighteenth century, which will no doubt be based on her latest book,

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art, which I reviewed here. I am looking forward to hearing her speak very much indeed, as I last heard her speak at the Costume Society’s AGM in Bath a few years ago.

Another of the talks which will be of interest to Janeites is one being given by Hilary Davidson of the Museum of London – ‘Recreating Jane Austen’s Pelisse-Coat’

This is a garment that is in the care of the Hampshire Museum service, and here is a link to their webpage about it. Though it is known as Jane Austen’s pelisse, there is no absolute proof it was hers, as their website states:

Sadly there is no absolutely definite link between the pelisse and Jane Austen although the family association is quite strong. Jane died unmarried in 1817 and left the bulk of her estate to her sister, Cassandra, who took charge of her papers and other belongings and later distributed them amongst other members of the family…This particular pelisse was presumably given to Edward by Cassandra and it would no doubt have brought back vivid memories of Jane wearing it. It was handed down to his daughter, who also loved Jane and spent considerable time with her and could also have seen her aunt wearing it towards the end of her life. That she gave it to her friend, Miss Glubbe, who made sure that it was returned to the Austen/Knight family argues an acknowledged obligation on her part. The pelisse was then handed down through the family until 1993, when it was given to the Museums Service.

However, I will be very interested in the talk, so see what secrets this garment may be concealing.

The Conference webpage can be accessed here, and the registration details can also be accessed via this page. I will, D.V. be reporting back to you on this topic.