Angie Minichello ’21 is passionate about fashion design, painting, history, and gender studies. She was able to dive into all of these fields and more while working on her senior project centered around fashion trends during the Victorian era. “My project is essentially an analysis of Victorian era fashion through a historical lens,” said Angie.
Her plan was to create five paintings, each accompanied by a written description, as well as a Victorian style dress. She completed the paintings and blurbs during STAC 4, but was unable to complete the dress as a result of the difficult circumstances posed by the pandemic. “It would have been easier for me to make the Victorian dress had I been in school,” explained Angie. “Doing it at home, I didn’t have the tools and resources I needed, but if I had been able to work completely in the fashion studio, I would have had everything readily accessible.” However, Angie was able to adapt to this complicated situation and chose to use this time to “spice up” her paintings by adding even more detail and further expanding on her analyses.
Angie’s paintings show the progression of fashion throughout Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1837 to her death in 1901. However, she did skip some years, as she found that there were some periods of time in which trends remained constant. Angie said, “there were simply some years where there is not a lot of historical information because no pivotal events happened. I skipped much of the 1880s and the 1890s because not a lot was happening in England during this time. The earlier part of Victoria’s reign was more eventful.”
Throughout her research and the creation of her paintings, Angie found that major historical events directly correlated with changes in fashion trends. “What I wrote about in my analyses was that things changed in the fashion industry alongside historical events, demonstrating a relationship between the two,” says Angie. “I made connections based on the historical changes and speculatively tied them to the fashion movements during Victorian times.”
Angie also studied Victorian fashion through the lens of gender. “I noticed that a lot of the fashion changes resulted from things that happened to Victoria,” she explained. “For example, Victoria married her husband Albert in the 1850s. Prior to this period, necklines that were referred to as ‘boat necks’ were popular. However, after her marriage, long sleeves and higher necklines became more popular.” Angie found that this shift to more modest clothing had to do with Victoria’s submission to her husband and her loss of bodily autonomy. “Victoria got married and was expected to be submissive and this submissiveness was shown through fashion,” she says. Thus, Angie was able to tie changes in fashion trends to gender dynamics.
Angie learned a lot from this project, but she was able to settle on one prominent take-away: “The general idea of how much history and historical events impact fashion was really interesting to me. I find it so interesting that things that happen in life affect how people present themselves. What’s even more intriguing is the effect that those in power have on what people wear.”
To learn more about Angie’s project and the relationship between Victorian history and women’s fashion, be sure to attend the senior project presentations at the end of STAC 6. Not only will you be able to discover more about Angie’s work, but you can learn from the various other seniors who have embarked on projects they are passionate about.