On Teaching Fashion: Films for Fashion History, Part I


On my teaching schedule this term is History of Fashion, covering Western fashion, from Mesopotamia to today, including everything from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome to the French Revolution and the Roaring 1920s. As a supplement to art and historical images, one way to illustrate fashions of the past is with selected scenes from popular films. Here is the first half of my two-part list of favorites, listed by cultural/historical period.  Part II will come next week.

Ancient Egyptian: Nefertiti Resurrected

Ancient Rome: This YouTube clip advertising a BBC documentary on Pompeii.

The Late Middle Ages: The Black Adder, Series I

Italian Renaissance: Ever After – A Cinderella Story, admittedly, set in France, yet the costumes are heavily based on Italian Renaissance art. Visit the site Ever After Costumes to see some of the corresponding portraits some of the film costumes are based upon.

The Seventeenth Century: Girl With a Pearl Earring

The Eighteenth Century: Dangerous Liaisons
and Marie Antoinette

The Directoire and Empire Period: Sense & Sensibility

The Bustle Period: The Age of Innocence

What are your favorite films with historical costumes? Leave me a comment and let me know.  Be sure to look for Part II of my list next week.

Related Articles


  • keren b. September 25, 2009 10.23 am

    What about Showtime’s The Tudors?
    And the movie “The cat’s meow?”

  • Mellissa September 25, 2009 10.48 pm

    Doctor Zhivago

  • Relished Artistry September 26, 2009 12.35 am

    In my education as a Costume Designer, we were taught that most films before the mid-1970s were of “mixed aunthenticity” when it came to indicating period… I have a few examples on my blog here:

    But there is also another wonderful online Fashion History through movies resource here that you might find incredibly helpful:

    I really look forward to further reading of your posts! I just found your blog, and I’m really excited about it! Thanks for all the wonderful insights!!

    –Corey in San Diego

  • Jenaveve September 26, 2009 02.19 am

    All of the above, and others that spring to mind… The Duchess, Cherie, Titanic, My Fair Lady.

  • Emski September 28, 2009 11.33 am

    The first series of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ was pretty well researched, all the costume & textiles used in the episodes reflected the material culture & ideals of the era.

  • Worn Through » On Teaching Fashion: Films for Fashion History, Part II
    October 2, 2009 - 5:01 am

Leave a Comment

Monthly Archive


Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at : Amazon.com, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.