On reflection of the blogs which I have produced during this assignment, I believe it has enabled me to learn new skills which I will use for academic assignments later in my degree. It has helped me to build on my knowledge on the analysing academic sources, something which I learned while studying A level history. Not only have the blogs helped me academically but they have also engaged my interest in fashion history even more so than before. I will be looking forward to my further studies with Design Cultures next year. 



Semiotic analysis of a portrait

Henry VIII 1520

Fig 1- King Henry VIII by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, circa 1520. National Portrait Gallery, London

As a king, Henry used his choice of dress was a way in which he asserted his power, Hayward (2007) stated his use of wardrobe to create a sense of magnificence was conveyed very powerful.

Within the painting, he is shown to be wearing a significant amount of gold, it has been said that ‘Henry VIII had a great passion for jewels and jewellery’ Norris (1938). A significant piece of jewellery which Henry is shown to be wearing is his chain with a pendent around his neck, like the ones in Fig.2. Norris (1938) explained that gold chains were very popular, and a wardrobe account states that in 1511, Henry purchased a 98-ounce pendent for £199. The price Henry paid for this item of jewellery supports the argument that he used his economic capital to emphasise authority.


Fig 2- Pendant’s similar to what the royalty and nobility would wear- Norris, H, 1938. Costume & fashion. Vol.3, The Tudors. Book 1, 1485-1547. London: J.M. Dent and Sons LTD.

The colour of clothing was also used in the 16th Century to show power and authority, due to the significant differentiation of pricing and dyeing techniques. In respect to Henrys clothing within the portrait, he is shown to have been dressed in Red velvet. Red dyes in the sixteenth century, were very expensive due to the way in which it was created. Kirby, et al (2014) described the way in which red dyes are extracted from the bodies of female Kermes insects which contain eggs which are yet to hatch. This process was highly time consuming where by insects must be killed and dried, this was accomplished by ‘immersion of boiling water, exposure to sun, heating on a skillet and suffocation’ Feeser, et al (2012). This means the price of clothing dyed using Kermes Dye was significantly high.

As stated under the current events of the 1520 on (National Portrait Gallery, n.d.) Henry was involved in The Field Of Cloth Of Gold around the time of the when the Portrait would have been painted. It involved ‘two of the greatest kings of the European Renaissance, the 25-year-old King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England then aged 29’ Richardson (2014). One of Henrys main aims within his Foreign Policy, was to be viewed as strong power amongst leaders within Europe, he used The field of Cloth of Gold was used as a way to achieve this through the use of lavish decor for example ‘the mule too, of course, was dressed in crimson velvet, and all of her trappings were of gold’ Lacey (1972). This links to the amount of gold which Henry was wearing within the portrait, as he wanted to also look as lavish due to the date of the painting being the same time as when The Field of Cloth and Gold took place.


Feeser, A. e., Goggin, M. D. e. & Tobin, B. F. e., 2012. The materiality of color: the production, circulation, and application of dyes and pigments, 1400-1800. Surrey: Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Hayward, M., 2007. Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII. s.l.:Maney Publishing .

Kirby, J. a., Bommel, M. R. v. a., Verhecken, A. a. & Spring, M. a., 2014. Natural colorants for dyeing and lake pigments: practical recipes and their historical sources. London: Archetype Publications Ltd in association with CHARISMA .

Lacey, R., 1972. The Life and Times of Henry VIII. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

National Portrait Gallery, L., n.d. King Henry VIII. [Online] Available at: [Accessed April 2018].

Norris, H., 1938. Costume & fashion. Vol.3, The Tudors. Book 1, 1485-1547. London: J.M. Dent and Sons LTD.

Richardson, G., 2014. The Field of Cloth of Gold. s.l.:Yale University .

Image References

Fig 1-National Portrait Gallery, L., n.d. King Henry VIII. [Online] Available at: [Accessed April 2018]

Fig 2-Norris, H., 1938. Costume & fashion. Vol.3, The Tudors. Book 1, 1485-1547. London: J.M. Dent and Sons LTD.





Historical Sustainability analysis

During the 19th Century deadly dyes were used to colour shoes with the era’s current popular shades. In respect to the Adelaides boot shown in fig 1, (Museum, n.d.) described how it tested positive for arsenic‐based dye, the deep colour in the boot was just one of the many shades of green that could be produced using arsenic. During this time Victorian England were using the same dyes and as explained by Whorton (2010) that the great majority of fatalities from arsenic in the nineteenth century came not from intentional poisoning, but from accident. Thus, suggesting people were not aware of the risks associated with being in contact with products such as clothing which contained the deadly chemical.


Fig 1– Green satin Adelaides Boot, European, c.1840s. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum. Photo credit: Image © 2015 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada (photo: Ron Wood)

For the people who wore any garment containing arsenic based dyes they were putting their lives at risk and in most cases unknowingly. In Fig 2, two skeletons are shown dressed in evening wear and preparing to dance with each other. The source suggests that the people who wore these arsenic dyed clothing were potentially killing themselves to look good. The same goes for anyone who purchased and wore the Adelaides Boot. This is further supported in an article by Ceja-Galicia (2017) who stated arsenic exposure has also been linked to increased risks of internal cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and a decrease in children’s intellectual function. All of these, would impossible or difficult to treat in the 19th Century.


Fig 2- Two skeletons dressed as lady and gentleman in “the Arsenic Waltz,” Etching (1862) (courtesy Wellcome Library, London)

For the fabric to be dyed the deep green shade, workers ‘brushed emerald green paste directly into the cloth with their bare forearms’ described by David (2015). As explained by (Facts, n.d.) exposure to arsenic in the workplace by inhalation can also cause lung cancer. The likelihood of cancer is related to the level and duration of exposure. Meaning the health of workers who handled the arsenic dyed satin material for long periods of time would have been effected, more so than those who wore it.

The shoe itself is made from satin a form of silk. From the 1400 to the mid-1800, silkworms were used across Europe. The process involves the use of silk cocoons made my silk worms, the method can be seen an unethical due to disruption of the life cycle of the animal. Before the new silk moth could hatch from its cocoon, it is ‘baked, steamed, gassed or refrigerated’ Parker (1992) thus killing the developing animal. As stated by Parker (1992) the British were not successful at breeding silkworms meaning they would have to import them from other countries or purchase pre-made fabric, both of these would have been costly. Suggesting the price of the Adelaides Boot would have been costly, meaning the shoe would have been more targeted at Higher Classes.


Ceja-Galicia, Z. A., 2017. Molecular and Cellular endocinology. 452(c).

David, A. M., 2015. Fashion Victims. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Facts, G., n.d. Arsenic. [Online] Available at: [Accessed April 2018].

Museum, B. S., n.d. Fashion Victims. [Online] Available at: [Accessed April 2018].

Parker, J., 1992. All about silk: a fabric dictionary & swatchbook. Seattle: Rain City Publishing.

Whorton, J. C., 2010. The arsenic century : how Victorian Britain was poisoned at home, work, and pla. s.l.:OUP Oxford.

Image References

Fig 1- Museum, B. S., n.d. Fashion Victims. [Online] Available at: [Accessed April 2018].

Fig 2- David, A. M., 2015. Fashion Victims. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.








London Fashion Week

London is not only the capital of the UK, but one of the most popular cities to visit for tourists and lovers of fashion. A journal article by Quest, (2014) states ‘People watching in London never disappoints’ showing that unlike some places, peoples individuality can show through, especially regarding what they wear.

For London it was the era of the 1980s when its fashion presence became more apparent as in ‘1983 the British Fashion Council was founded and the first edition of London Fashion Week took place in February 1984’ (Fair, n.d.). During this time the figures such as the late David Bowie were effecting the fashion scene through his style of ‘cross dressing and extreme make up, creating Blitz Kids’ Breward, et al., (2004).


FIG 1- Gods of the Blitz: George O’Dowd and Stephen Linard at the Spandau Ballet concert in Heaven, Dec 29, 1980. Both became international icons, one as popstar, the other as fashion designer,

One of the most prominent designers of the London Fashion weeks is Vivienne Westwood, in 1981 she showed her first seminal collection in London, Tucker, (1998) described the range as ‘Pirates in asymmetrical T-shirts’. She went on to be named British Designer of the Year that year, as well as in 1991 Boyes, (2008). Westwood is still at large today taking part in the 2018 spring/summer London fashion week, her collection is shown on Vogue, (2017).

Today London Fashion Week has developed to one of the most well known and well respected global fashion weeks. Below you can see the highlights from the most recent London Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2018.

FIG 2- London Fashion Week Highlights February 2018 in 360 VR

In my opinion London Fashion week has drastically changed from the first show in the 1980’s. Previously its muse was the niche street style of people who lived in the London area. Today the focus is more on trends which everyone can follow, this is due to the rise of social media, and the idea of retail therapy. This however is distinguishing the sense of individuality though dress, something which London Fashion Week was based on.


Boyes, M., 2008. Vogue. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed April 2018].

Breward, C., Ehrman, E. & Evans, C., 2004. The London look: fashion from street to catwalk. s.l.:Yale University Press .

Fair, t. C. V. F., n.d. History of London Fashion Week. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed April 2018].

Quest, P., 2014. Women’s Wear Daily. London Fashion Week , 207(58).

Tucker, A., 1998. The London Fashion Book. s.l.:Thames & Hudson.

Vogue, 2017. Vivienne Westwood pre. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed April 2018].

Image Reference

FIG 1- Press, W., n.d. Shapers of the 80s. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2018].

FIG 2-  You Tube , 2018. London Fashion Week Highlights February 2018 in 360 VR. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2018].






About Me

Why Fashion Buying with Merchandising BA? Maybe not the most obvious degree course for some but for me this seemed to tick all the boxes. My name is Ella-May Emery I am 18 years old from the midlands and currently studying Fashion Buying at De Montfort university. For me fashion was not something which I particularly related to until my older teen years, when I was able to wear what I wanted in college and could think about current styles and trends more.

As my love of fashion grew, so did my interest in designer brands, most importantly Giorgio Armani. Armani did not make his fashion breakthrough till the 1970’s, where he successfully presented his first show in 1974, in a Milan restaurant to a hand full of friends, buyers and journalists shown by White (2000). Armani gradually grew over the next 20 years as in Greenberg (2006) article of the company’s global expansion, it is shown that from 1991 they have been able to distribute 105 stores worldwide.

FIG 1. GIORGIO ARMANI Fall 2018/2019 Milan – Fashion Channel

In today’s business market ELLE.COM (2018) have effectively displayed how Armani are one of the biggest participators of The Milan Fashion Show a Seasonal event respected by fashion lovers across the globe.

Another designer which has influenced my interest in fashion is the well-known designer brand Versace. Versace younger years included studying architecture between 1964 and 1967 (White, 2000), which helped develop his creative side. Later in life he began working with his mother as a buyer.

Today Versace has a large social media presence. A (Vogue , 2018) article, highlights an interview where Donatella Versace tells us what it means to be a woman in 2018, there was also video included where she answered 72 questions regarding her life. The video went viral on Facebook which then spreads the knowledge of the Versace brand.

ELLE.COM, 2018. Giorgio Armani Fall 2018. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed March 2018].
Greenberg, J., 2006. Women’s Wear Daily. A|X ARMANI EXCHANGE PUSHES GLOBAL EXPANSION, 192(82).
White, N., 2000. Giorgio Armani. s.l.:Carlton Books Limited .


Image References-

 Fashion Channel. (2018). GIORGIO ARMANI Fall 2018/2019 Milan – Fashion Channel. [Online Video]. 24 February 2018. Available from: [Accessed: 4 April 2018]




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