The Time Traveller’s Guide to Fashion

Born of my fascination with fine fabrics, vintage fashion and costume history, The Time Traveller’s Guide to Fashion is a work in progress.

A lively blend of creative artwork and solid historical research, it was too much fun to wait until the whole thing is done – which will take years – so I published five individual chapters as paper dolls.

They’re available on my Etsy shop; to see the listing of an individual doll, click on the image below.

The Historic series explores looks that were the latest in fashion before the industrialization of the textile industry – a period when making clothing was labour-intensive since every step, from spinning the yarns used to weave the fabrics to the finishing details was done by hand.

Based on costume research, archeology and experimental reconstruction, the Historic paper dolls wear the wonderful – and occasionally weird – fashions of an era when clothing was a serious investment.

The two Historic paper dolls are Vikings; Hrafna Erlendsdottir, a tenth-century merchant from Hedeby and her partner Ingevar Torstenson, a master carpenter.

Tenth century Viking merchant from Hedeby Viking master carpenter Ingevar Torstenson in work clothes and with an adze

The Fashion series explores looks that were hot and trendy from the start of the industrial revolution (roughly 1760)  to the present. The industrial revolution changed fashion profoundly – fabrics became progressively cheaper and the way clothes were made changed because ways of sewing that are efficient by hand are not always efficient for machine sewing.

Prior to the industrial revolution most clothes were one-off, mostly made to fit the body that was going to wear them. This doesn’t fit the way manufacturing works – now, except for the most expensive couture, almost all clothing is mass-produced, with hundreds of copies churned out. And, at least in the western world, even home-sewn clothes are usually made using mass-produced patterns!

The three Fashion paper dolls are an elegant lady from the 1950s wearing the hautest of haute couture, a teenager who might be her daughter wearing the hip fashions of the beginning of the Rock’n’Roll era and a dollybird wearing the startling new fashions of  the swinging sixties

Christian Dior "Bar" suit
The Rock'n'Roll '50s