TRANSPARENT WOMEN

Exploring Outdated Aesthetic on the Modern Woman's Body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

1850s Design
1850s Design
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1850s Design
1850s Design

Modeled by Shalea O'Riley

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1850s Design
1850s Design

Modeled by Shalea O'Riley

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1850s Design
1850s Design

Modeled by Shalea O'Riley

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1850s Design
1850s Design

Modeled by Shalea O'Riley

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1850s Design
1850s Design

Modeled by Shalea O'Riley

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1880s Design
1880s Design
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1880s Design
1880s Design

Modeled by Annabelle Dickson

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1880s Design
1880s Design

1880s Design

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1880s Design
1880s Design

1880s Design

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1880s Design
1880s Design

1880s Design

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1880s Design
1880s Design

1880s Design

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1900s Design
1900s Design
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1900s Design
1900s Design

Modeled by Taylor Conway

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1900s Design
1900s Design

Modeled by Taylor Conway

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1900s Design
1900s Design

Modeled by Taylor Conway

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1900s Design
1900s Design

Modeled by Taylor Conway

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1900s Design
1900s Design

Modeled by Taylor Conway

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1917 Design
1917 Design
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1917 Design
1917 Design

Modeled by Miriam Phwandaphwanda

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1917 Design
1917 Design

Modeled by Miriam Phwandaphwanda

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1917 Design
1917 Design

Modeled by Miriam Phwandaphwanda

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1917 Design
1917 Design

Modeled by Miriam Phwandaphwanda

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1917 Design
1917 Design

Modeled by Miriam Phwandaphwanda

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1920s Design
1920s Design
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1920s Design
1920s Design

Modeled by Julia Dabdub

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1920s Design
1920s Design

Modeled by Julia Dabdub

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1920s Design
1920s Design

Modeled by Julia Dabdub

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1920s Design
1920s Design

Modeled by Julia Dabdub

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1920s Design
1920s Design

Modeled by Julia Dabdub

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DSC08392.jpeg
 

TRANSPARENT WOMEN PROJECT INTERVIEW

Filmed and edited by Chris Millham

MODEL BIOS

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

1850s Model

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

1880s Model

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

1900s Model

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

1910s Model

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

1920s Model

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.