Exploring Outdated Aesthetic on the Modern Woman's Body
This project chronicles the evolution of fashion in the sixty years leading up to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The Transparent Women Project investigates how women’s clothing between the 1850s and 1920s changed in response to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. For this project, five dresses were designed and built from the 1850s, 1880s, 1900s, 1910s, and 1920s with specific emphasis on the undergarments worn with these dresses. The dresses were constructed using sheer materials to showcase these undergarments.
This project was funded by a $2,500 Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Everything pictured was designed, patterned, and built by me except for the corsets and petticoats. These were purchased from Period Corsets. The dresses were made from a combination of silk organza (PV3000-103) and silk chiffon (PV5000-104) from Mood Fabrics. Across these five dresses, approximately one-hundred yards of fabric was used.
Photography by Luke Welch
TRANSPARENT WOMEN PROJECT INTERVIEW
Filmed and edited by Chris Millham
The models for this project are all students at the University of Central Arkansas. They study different disciplines such as professional writing, biology, and theatre. I chose these young women not only because they are strong and empowered women of the 21st century, but also because they are all diverse. Four of the five models are BIPOC, some are members of the LGBT+ community, and they all feature different body types and sizes. This was important to me because while I was doing research for this project, I found that most of the evidence from these periods only featured slimmer white women. As this does not reflect our current society, I decided to combine these period silhouettes with the modern woman in order to further show the difference in women’s fashion.
Shalea O'Riley (she/her) is a sophomore environmental science major at the University of Central Arkansas. She is from Greenwood, Arkansas. She was drawn to the Transparent Women Project because it seemed like a fun and feminist opportunity to recognize Women's Suffrage. She also saw this project as an opportunity to bring diversity into this period as a Native American woman.
Annabelle Dickson (she/they) is a junior theatre major at the University of Central Arkansas. She is from Fort Smith, Arkansas. She is a Shakespeare lover, a writer, actor, and future director. She hopes to build a better world through education and storytelling. Annabelle was drawn to Transparent Women because it was an opportunity to be a part of history while acknowledging the progress women have made in our society.
Taylor Conway (she/her) is a sophomore theatre major at the University of Central Arkansas. She is from Conway, Arkansas. She is a poet, performer, and choreographer. Taylor was drawn to the Transparent Women Project because she saw it as a chance to tell history in a way other than through speech. It was an opportunity to show how women fought to earn their rights and break society's rules. She was also eager to see a black woman be a part of the story as well.
Miriam Phwandaphwanda (she/her) is a junior professional writing major at the University of Central Arkansas. She is from Conway, Arkansas. She was drawn to the Transparent Women Project because she hoped to represent minority women in history. She is a member of the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College and enjoys roller skating, going to concerts, and watching animated movies.
Julia Dabdub (she/her) is a junior theatre and philosophy double major at the University of Central Arkansas. She is from Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is an actor and has been a part of several UCA theatre productions and student films. Julia was drawn to the Transparent Women Project because of the prospect of seeing modern women in period clothing. As a Latinx person, Julia liked the idea of bringing women of differing backgrounds and shapes together to honor the women that came before us.