Decadence and Aestheticism through Fashion and Textiles: Guest Editors’ Introduction

Robyne Calvert, Veronica Isaac

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


The present issue of Volupté explores the connections between Aestheticism and decadence through the lens of fashion and textiles. The theme was inspired by a online series of talks (Jeudis), ‘Decadence & Aestheticism: Truth, Beauty, Exoticism, and the Sublime in Nineteenth Century Fashion’, which we were invited to organize by the British Association of Decadence Studies (BADS) in Autumn 2021. Our own eagerness to explore these connections stemmed from a shared interest in Aestheticism in dress and textile histories, particularly in relation to the performative aspects of Artistic Dress, and its relationship to costume/fashion practice in life and on the stage.

What we have compiled is an exploratory issue, applying approaches from material culture to a literary field and thereby offering interdisciplinary considerations which include not just astute textual analyses, but creative pieces of fiction, poetry, and art practice as well. This collection encompasses a range of sources, disciplines and time periods representing texts, textiles, film, images, interiors, dress, and accessories – real and imagined. The creative responses in particular demonstrate that both Aestheticism and decadence – or neo-decadence and neo-Aestheticism – are living fields that provide inspiration for creativity, questioning, and analysis.

There are still many questions which this issue of Volupté does not address as fully as we would like. For example, we recognize the importance of the debates initiated by the previous issue on Decolonizing Decadence, and there is a great deal more work to be done in this area to deconstruct issues of gender, race, and class.

We therefore offer this issue as more of a provocation, rather than a reflection on the current ‘state of the field’. Our aim is to inspire and invite others to undertake further discussion and research on fashion and textiles in decadence studies, particularly as narrative agents that may reveal deeper complexities and new readings of material and literary culture of the fin de siècle, and their legacies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalVolupté: Interdisciplinary Journal of Decadence Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2023


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