Online course

The Birth of Style: European Fashion 1860-2020

Thursday 28 April 2022 - Thursday 21 July 2022

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Technological and social developments since 1860 changed what was possible and what was desirable to wear with the result that we live in a world of rapidly changing, possibly unsustainable fashion.

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Jennifer Wearden

Course Director Jennifer Wearden

Jennifer Wearden was Senior Curator of Textiles in the Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion until 2005. With experience of the textile industry in Lancashire and 28 years working with the textile collection in the V&A, she has also written several popular V&A books including 'Iranian Textiles' and 'Dress in Detail from around the World'.

Fabulous course and wonderful experience, look forward to signing up for future online courses! Previous 'The Birth of Style' online course student

Course Overview

What we choose to wear has been dramatically influenced by advances in science and technology, by the expectations of ordinary men and women and by the types of people who lead fashion. We will show you how European fashion has been shaped by a multitude of forces, how it became a political tool, how it was democratized and undermined. We will see how clothes were sold and how fashionable garments became widely available. We will look at the work of some of the most innovative designers who created clothes for royalty, the wealthy elite and the stylish. We will explore how the terrible wars of the 1930s and 1940s had a profound effect on fashion and how the industry struggled to recover. We will look at how people have recorded new and changing fashions in both word and image, how dance, sport and Hollywood have influenced what we wear and how, in this ever-changing and perhaps unsustainable world of throw-away fashion, technological events and environmental concerns are still changing what is possible and desirable.


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Membership Priority Booking opens Monday 24 January at 10am; General Booking opens Monday 31 January at 10am

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Online course: The Birth of Style: European Fashion 1860-2020

28 April 2022 - 21 July 2022


Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 9.30 - 17.30, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)