Fashion and Prostitution in Victorian New Orleans

August 30th, 2013 by Leah Wood Jewett

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Danielle Reaves, a PhD student in Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising at LSU will present “Fashion and Prostitution in Victorian New Orleans,” in LSU’s Hill Memorial Library on Thursday, September 12, at 3:30.

Using E.J. Bellocq’s photographs of Storyville prostitutes from the time as illustrations, Reaves will discuss the history of Victorian New Orleans prostitution and how its practitioners’ fashion choices influenced mainstream styles then and now.  Followers of fashion have traditionally looked to the upper-class to see what clothing styles and fabrics are in style.  In the last several decades, however, fashion designers have increasingly been influenced by clothing decisions of the less affluent to find inspiration for their designs.  Reaves’ research indicates that though this “trickle-up” theory is now an accepted part of the fashion sphere, the clothing and appearance of the Victorian prostitute of New Orleans is often overlooked as one of the earliest “trickle-up” fashion influences.

Reaves holds an M.S. in Apparel and Textiles and a B.A. in Telecommunications and Film, both from the University of Alabama.

The talk is being held in connection with LSU Libraries Special Collections’ current exhibition “Centuries of Style: A RETROspective of Dress,” on display in Hill Library through October 19.  Both the talk and exhibition are free and open to the public.

 

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