From West African masquerades to Venetian carnivals and New York society galas, fancy dress has long been used to convey important social and political messages. The only form of clothing that all people, regardless of gender, race, class or sexuality are likely to wear at some point in their lives, fancy dress is a symbol of both escapism and protest; it stands for a vision of fantasy and fun, while also confronting the reality of cultural stereotypes.
Exploring all the allure, playfulness and daring of dressing up, Carnival to Catwalk takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the global history of fancy dress. Drawing on a treasure-trove of textual and visual resources, the book encompasses Halloween festivities and transvestite clubs, Mardi Gras parades and gatherings at Versailles, revealing how fancy dress has long been used to celebrate as well as to disguise individual identity.
Vividly chronicling evidence from the Middle Ages to the modern day, cultural historian Benjamin Wild throws open the historical dressing-up box and demonstrates the enduring appeal of fancy dress, as it becomes an increasingly central part of modern couture and clothing design. Meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated, Carnival to Catwalk is a remarkable resource for scholars, students and costume enthusiasts alike.