New Book | Forbidden Fashions in Early Venetian Convents

Posted in books by Editor on November 29, 2013

From Texas Tech University Press:

Isabella Campagnol, Forbidden Fashions: Invisible Luxuries in Early Venetian Convents, Costume Society of America Series (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2013), 160 pages, ISBN: 978-0896728295, $35.

9780896728295Form-fitting dresses, silk veils, earrings, furs, high-heeled shoes, make up, and dyed, flowing hair. It is difficult for a contemporary person to reconcile these elegant clothes and accessories with the image of cloistered nuns. For many of the some thousand nuns in early modern Venice, however, these fashions were the norm. Often locked in convents without any religious calling—simply to save their parents the expense of their dowry—these involuntary nuns relied on the symbolic meaning of secular clothes, fabrics, and colors to rebel against the rules and prescriptions of conventual life and to define roles and social status inside monastic society. Calling upon mountains of archival documents, most of which have never been seen in print, Forbidden Fashions is the first book to focus specifically upon the dress of nuns in Venetian convents and offers new perspective on the intersection of dress and the city’s social and economic history.

Isabella Campagnol, a dress, textile, and decorative arts historian, is the co-editor of Rubelli: A Story of Venetian Silk. She has
lectured on the topics of Venice and Venetian textiles in Italy and
Europe and the United States. She lives between Murano and Rome.

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Liza Foreman, “Fashion Inside Convent Walls,” provides a sketch of the project in The New York Times (23 September 2013) . . .

24iht-fnuns-inline-videoSixteenByNine600. . . Ms. Campagnol, 44, was commissioned by the society to write Forbidden Fashions after lecturing at its symposium in 2008. The book spans the period from the 15th century, when there were around 2,100 nuns living in the city’s 30 convents, to the mid-18th century, when, Ms. Campagnol said, “most of the convents were closed or repurposed by Napoleon, after the fall of the Republic in 1797.”

As for the fashionable nuns, they were “how Venice preserved its wealth” at a time when brides were expected to come with large dowries, the author explained. “If you had more than one daughter, one married and the rest went to convents.” . . .

The full article is available here»

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