Lecture: Reading Fashion in Art with The Dress Detective

1/21/23 Saturday Lecture with Dr. Ingrid Mida

Saturday, 1/21/23 10am PT

Virtual-only via Zoom.

$5 Members of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Students $10 General Admission \ Free for TAC members

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Please note: this lecture will *not* be presented in-person.

A recording will be available for 14 days after the talk.



Fashion and figurative art are inextricably connected. From the stylization of the body to subtle textile embellishments and richly symbolic colours, the way in which the body is dressed is central to our interpretation of the image even if the artist has enhanced, exaggerated or taken artistic license with the sitter’s likeness. A close study of how the body has been fashioned in an artwork can help with dating of the image and/or provide clues as to the aesthetic ideals, norms and cultural beliefs of the time in which the artwork was produced.


Since dress cannot be read like a text, every detail of how the body is dressed in a figurative artwork must be considered. In arguing that there is a difference between looking and seeing, Dr. Ingrid Mida advocates for the Slow Approach to Seeing as the first step to reading fashion in art. Using selected artworks from the collections of the Legion of Honor and the de Young museums, including works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, and others, Dr. Mida will discuss how the fashioned body has been used in art to express notions of beauty, gender, and politics.


About the Speaker

Dr. Ingrid Mida is an art and dress historian, artist and curator with a PhD in Art History and Visual Culture. She is a Research Associate at Toronto Metropolitan University and the author three books published by Bloomsbury: including The Dress Detective (2015), Reading Fashion in Art (2020) and the recently released Dressing and Undressing Duchamp (2022). Dr. Mida has acted as a consultant to museums and private collectors in helping date and interpret photographs, artworks and dress artifacts and has lectured in universities and museums in North America, Europe, the United Kingdom. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal DRESS and is on the board of several arts organizations, including the Textile Museum of Canada.


Image Credits:

1. Dr. Ingrid Mida studying artifacts at the Textile Museum of Canada.

2. Dr. Ingrid Mida at the Fashion Research Collection, Toronto Met University.