About the Fashion History Timeline

The Fashion History Timeline is an open-access source for fashion history knowledge, featuring objects and artworks from over a hundred museums and libraries that span the globe. The Timeline website offers well-researched, accessibly written entries on specific artworks, garments and films for those interested in fashion and dress history. Started as a pilot project by FIT art history faculty and students in the Fall of 2015, the Timeline aims to be an important contribution to public knowledge of the history of fashion and to serve as a constantly growing and evolving resource not only for students and faculty, but also for the wider world of those interested in fashion and dress history (from the Renaissance scholar to the simply curious).

Accurate knowledge of dress and fashion history is vital to the practice and study of not only art history, but also archaeology, classics, history, literature and visual culture. Yet analyzing and understanding dress can be daunting to scholars and students who have not been trained in fashion history. The Fashion History Timeline is intended to demystify dress and fashion, offering the academic community and the public an easily accessible starting place for their research. Decade and century overview pages offer visual examples of period styles, a visually rich fashion dictionary defines key terms, and hundreds of examples of dress analysis from antiquity to the present day model the complicated task of discerning whether something is fashionable or merely everyday dress, as well as the historical implications of that distinction. The Timeline equips students and researchers with essential facts, vocabulary, and models of analysis. In the future, with further funding, we plan to add expert-written overviews of period styles, biographies of 18th- and 19th-century fashion designers, and coverage of non-western fashion as well.

In addition to all its original content, the Timeline also aims to act as online nexus for fashion history research, aggregating and curating existing print and digital research sources. It features a search-able Source Database of reliable academic publications on fashion and dress history and a much more extensive Zotero database that students and researchers can draw on and contribute to. The Timeline aims to index the wealth of digital resources for primary fashion history research online that otherwise require specialized knowledge or luck to discover, offering links to digitized fashion plate collections, fashion periodicals and etiquette books held by libraries and museums across the world. Lists of relevant online primary and secondary resources are featured on each decade overview page on the Timeline; if you know of others, please contact us!  Century overview pages also include filmographies for those interested in seeing how the dress of a historic period has been translated to the screen. The Timeline’s blog aims to not only highlight NYC-area fashion history exhibitions, but also to serve as a forum for announcing new publications and digital resources.

The Timeline is a priority project of the History of Art Department, with the support of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Liberal Arts, Dean of Graduate Studies, and History of Art faculty including Profs. Kelly and Calahan, whose students—in addition to those of project co-directors De Young and Font—have contributed content since Fall 2015.

Generous support for the Fashion History Timeline
has been provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

# of Authors Contributing

# of Essays Written

# of Majors Represented

# of Classes Participating

# of Fashion History Sources in Zotero Database

# of Visitors a Day

Participant Bios

Project Co-Directors

Dr. Justine De Young (B.A. Williams College, M.A./Ph.D. Northwestern University), Associate Professor and Chair of the History of Art department at FIT and the Fashion History Timeline Project Director, specializes in the intersection of art and fashion. She is Editor of Fashion in European Art: Dress and Identity, Politics and the Body, 1775-1925 (I.B. Tauris, 2017). Her work has been generously supported by grants and fellowships from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Getty Foundation, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Before joining FIT, Dr. De Young taught art and fashion history at Harvard, Wellesley, Lesley, and Northwestern University. She has a strong interest in curatorial work and most recently contributed to the “Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity” exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée d’Orsay, and Art Institute of Chicago. She has held fellowships at The Met’s Costume Institute; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Northwestern University’s Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art.

Dr. Lourdes M. Font (B.A. Middlebury College, M.A./Ph.D. New York University) is Professor in the History of Art department and in the M.A. Program in Fashion and Textile Studies at FIT, and she is the Early Fashion Designer Database Project Director. Previously, she taught at the Parsons School of Design and at New York University. Among her recent publications is a contribution to Fashion Mix: Modes d’ici. Créateurs d’ailleurs (2014), the catalogue to an exhibition at the Musée National de l’Immigration in collaboration with the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. She has also contributed articles and essays to Oxford Art Online, West 86th, Business History, and Fashion Theory.

Project Team

Joseph Anderson (B.A. Columbia College Chicago, M.L.I.S. Dominican University), Adjunct Assistant Professor, is the Digital Initiatives Librarian in the Gladys Marcus Library at FIT. He is responsible for overseeing and directing library initiatives involving both digital content and metadata. Working from professional standards and best practices, he formulates policies and procedures for all parts of the digital content lifecycle: production, management, description, access and preservation. Previously, he worked as the Digital Projects Librarian for the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and as Cataloging Librarian for the St. Charles Public Library. He has developed and currently oversees Archive on Demand, FIT’s online video resource; SPARC Connect, the Library’s Special Collections and Archives (SPARC) archival management tool; and SPARC Digital, an online exhibition platform and image database.

Nanja Andriananjason (B.F.A. Fashion Institute of Technology) is the Technologist of the Visual Resources division of the FIT History of Art department. Working closely with the Visual Resources Curator, he digitizes materials for the faculty and produces graphics for the department promoting its activities and events. He maintains the History of Art department website and is familiar with Google analytics.

Molly Schoen (B.A. Michigan State University, M.L.I.S. Wayne State University) is the Visual Resources Curator in the History of Art department at FIT. In this position, she supports the image and technology needs of the History of Art faculty, from cataloging to reference, copyright advising to in-class presentations. Previously, she worked as the Information Resources Specialist in the Visual Resources Collections at the University of Michigan. She has contributed to The Visual Resources Association Bulletin and ARLIS N/A Multimedia & Technology Reviews, and she has also presented papers on topics related to visual literacy.

Karen Trivette (B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.L.S. University at Albany-SUNY) is Associate Professor-Librarian and Head of Special Collections and College Archives (SPARC) in the Gladys Marcus Library at FIT. She selects, arranges, describes, preserves, promotes, and makes accessible the holdings of the unit according to best practices and principles. Previously, she worked for the New York State Archives, the University at Albany (NY), the Clark Art Institute Library, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She edited Fashion Plates: 150 Years of Style (2015), which was sourced from SPARC holdings, has presented at many conferences, and currently serves on the editorial board of the Society of American Archivists’ journal, American Archivist.

Additional Participating Faculty
  • Sarah Byrd (Adjunct Instructor, M.A. Program in Fashion and Textile Studies, FIT)
  • April Calahan (Curator of Manuscript Collections and Designer Archives, Special Collections, Gladys Marcus Library & Adjunct Instructor, History of Art, FIT)
  • Rebecca Kelly (Adjunct Instructor, M.A. Program in Fashion and Textile Studies, FIT)
  • Rebecca Matheson (Adjunct Instructor, M.A. Program in Fashion and Textile Studies, FIT)
  • Natalie Nudell (Adjunct Associate Professor, History of Art, FIT)
  • Raissa Bretaña (Adjunct Instructor, History of Art, FIT)

We are also grateful for the assistance of the Research & Instructional Services librarians and others at the Library who provide key training and support for all our students.

Project Timeline

Fall 2015 – Pilot project begins with 2 classes creating artwork analysis entries

Spring 2016 – Pilot expands with new types of entries being created (garment analysis, term definitions) & new classes contributing

Fall 2016 – Pilot expands further to include decade overviews; Kress Foundation support secured

Spring 2017 – Kress Foundation support enables redesign and transition to WordPress; Year overviews and primary source indexes begin to be added

Summer 2017 – Zotero database of fashion history sources created; Blog created & social media presence established

Fall 2017 – Testing of new platform with 3 classes; Film analysis entries begin to be created

Spring 2018 – Public launch; Migration of previous content continues; New collaborations sought

Summer 2018 – Work begins on Early Fashion Designer Database;  Begin accepting contributions from beyond FIT

Fall 2018 – Spring 2020 – Kress Foundation support enables the creation of decade overviews for the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. SUNY OER funding supports the creation of 19th-century decade overviews.

Assistant Editors
  • Sarah Bochicchio (Spring 2018)
  • Alexandra Fanelli (Spring 2018)
  • Karina Reddy (Spring 2018-present)
  • Kenna Libes (2019-2020)
  • Bridget Kerr (Spring 2022)

Interested in being an editor? Contact us!

Student Interns

Interested in being an intern? Contact us!

Advisory Board

Nancy Deihl is the director of New York University’s graduate program in Costume Studies where she focuses on the history of fashion and textiles. She is the editor of The Hidden History of American Fashion: Rediscovering 20th-Century Women Designers (Bloomsbury 2018), and co-author of The History of Modern Fashion (Laurence King 2015). Other recent writing and editorial projects include an article on the role of failure in the American fashion industry for Vestoj and an essay on fashion in the 1920s for the James A. Michener Art Museum’s Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography and Sculptural Form.  She received her BA from Rutgers University, and her MA from New York University.

Michele Majer (Assistant Professor of European and American Clothing and Textiles, Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture) specializes in the 18th through 20th centuries, with a focus on exploring the material object and what it can tell us about society, culture, literature, art, economics and politics. She curated the exhibition and edited the accompanying publication, Staging Fashion, 1880-1920: Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke, which examined the phenomenon of actresses as internationally known fashion leaders at the turn-of-the-20th century and highlighted the printed ephemera (cabinet cards, postcards, theatre magazines, and trade cards) that were instrumental in the creation of a public persona and that contributed to and reflected the rise of celebrity culture.

Sarah Scaturro (Head Conservator at the Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) is in charge of the Costume Institute’s conservation laboratory and the preservation of its fashion collection. She was previously the textile conservator and assistant curator of fashion at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian National Design Museum. Combining fashion curation and conservation expertise, Sarah has curated five exhibitions, most recently “The Secret Life of Textiles: Synthetic Materials.” She has authored many exhibition catalogs, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles, including “A Delicate Balance: Ethics and Aesthetics at The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York” in Refashioning and Redress: Conserving and Displaying Dress (2017). An internationally recognized lecturer, she has given numerous papers and keynote speeches on fashion history, conservation, camouflage, and sustainable fashion. She received an M.A. in Fashion and Textile Studies from FIT and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Bard Graduate Center, researching the theory and history of fashion conservation.

Dr. Valerie Steele (Director and Chief Curator, The Museum at FIT) has organized more than 20 exhibitions since 1997, including “The Corset: Fashioning the Body,” “London Fashion,” “Gothic: Dark Glamour,” “Shoe Obsession,” “A Queer History of Fashion,” and “Dance and Fashion.” She is founder and editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, the first peer-reviewed, scholarly journal in fashion studies. She is author or co-author of more than 20 books, including Fashion and Eroticism, Paris Fashion, Women of Fashion, Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power, The Corset: A Cultural History, Gothic: Dark Glamour, Japan Fashion Now, The Berg Companion to Fashion, and Fashion Designers A-Z: The Collection of The Museum at FIT, as well as contributing essays to publications such as Fashion and Art and Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity. As author, curator, editor, and public intellectual, Steele has been instrumental in creating the modern field of fashion studies and in raising awareness of the cultural significance of fashion.

Lauren Whitley (Senior Curator of Textile and Fashion Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) helps oversee a global collection of 55,000 textiles, costumes, and fashion accessories. She has curated more than two dozen exhibitions, including “Hippie Chic,” “Icons of Style: Makers, Models, and Image,” and “High Style and Hoop Skirts: 1850s Fashion.” She recently co-curated #techstyle, a hi-tech fashion exhibition that was on view at the MFA from March-July 2016. Ms. Whitley holds an M.A. in Museum Studies: Costume and Textiles from FIT, and received her B.A. in Art History from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Humanities at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. Her recent publications include Hippie Chic and essays in Icons of Style: Fashion Makers, Models, and Images; MFA Highlights: Textile and Fashion Arts; and Fashion Show: Paris Style.

Future Plans

Fall 2020 & beyond – Begin to expand coverage of global fashion and the dress of ancient cultures