A Portrait of Fashion


Publication Date: October 2015
Price: £24.95
ISBN: 978 1 85514 556 6
Format: 280 x 230mm
Illustrations: 280 b/w and colour
Extent: 288pp
Binding: Paperback
Category: Art History/Fashion
Word Count: Approx 60,000 words

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Out of print

By Aileen Ribeiro with Cally Blackman

The definitive guide to costume in the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection, examining the fundamental importance of fashion in portraiture in fascinating detail, with expert insight and over 250 full-colour images.


Costume, portraiture and the presentation of the individual have been intimately linked throughout the history of art. While the face of the person portrayed is often still directly accessible to us, the details and significance of their dress can be less easy to comprehend.

Lavishly illustrated throughout with paintings, drawings, photographs and other works of art, this beautiful publication is centred around 190 examples from the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection. Through these, the authors explore the purpose and original context of the dress
in which the sitter was recorded – the damasks, satins, velvets and furs of Tudor and Stuart magnificence worn by Queen Elizabeth I and Charles I, but also the revolutionary simplicity
of the cottons, linens and woollen cloth adopted by Mary Wollstonecraft, John Constable and John Clare.

Packed with photographs that provide additional insights into the clothes worn by sitters in their portraits, and complemented by related material including fabric designs and jewellery, this authoritative guide looks in detail at one of the most fascinating aspects of many well-known images of the last 600 years.


Aileen Ribeiro is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She is internationally renowned as an authority on the history of dress, and has written many books and articles on the subject, most recently Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art (2011). In addition, she has been a costume consultant to major portrait exhibitions in the UK and US, including Whistler, Women and Fashion at the Frick Collection, New York (2003).

Cally Blackman is a Lecturer at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts, London), and holds degrees in Fashion Design and History of Art, as well as an MA in History of Dress from The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Amongst many other publications, she is the author of 100 Years of Fashion (2012).

With support from Furthermore: a programme of the J.M. Kaplan Fund