Early 19th Century Ackermann Illustrative Plates Collide With Contemporary Fashion:
Lasell University Students Explore Intrinsic Links Between History and Modern Design

This virtual exhibition highlights symbolic associations between a selection of illustrative plates from Ackermann's Repository of Arts and contemporary attire from the Lasell Fashion Collection. Each comparison analyzes wearable connections and influences from contrasting time periods that articulate the importance of history regarding costume development.

Rudolph Ackermann was a carriage maker turned author and multifaceted businessman who became London's leading publisher of color-plates, decorative prints, and fashion periodicals in the early 1800s1. The illustrative plates from his monthly periodical, The Repository of Arts, published from 1809 to 1829, beautifully illustrate prevailing fashions through an artistic and creative lens. They also contain detailed elements that deal with prominent themes of the era, such as the classic revival of feminine lifestyle2 as demonstrated through aesthetic features regarding silhouette, motifs, and dress components.

Fashion is known to expresses non-verbal cues that can be interpreted differently depending on the context, wearer, or community, therefore linking costume to social semiotics. According to Fred Davis author of Fashion, Culture, and Identity, "the chief difficulty of understanding fashion in its apparent [oddities] is the lack of exact knowledge of the unconscious symbolisms attaching to forms, colors, textures, postures, and other expressive elements3." Examining fashion in this contextual way allows one to not only draw design connections between the past and the modern era, but to see the significance of dress as a cultural language.

Note from Lasell Students:

Our investigation of material culture, presiding in the Lasell Fashion Collection, has given us an opportunity to utilize our fashion education in a scholarly framework. Each discovery conveys collective passions for deeper thinking associated with specific comparisons between Neoclassical style and contemporary dress. The opportunity to particiapte in this project, as junior curators, has been most rewarding.

Mateo Arman, 2021 Fashion Media and Marketing
Aine Hawthorne, 2020 Fashion History
Julie Pirog, 2021 Fashion Merchandising and Management
Sarena Widtfeldt, 2022 Merchandising and Management


Exhibition Credits:

Jennessa Reed Borman, Museum Software Specialist, PastPerfect
Jill Carey, M.Ed Professor and Curator of the Lasell Fashion Collection
Jonathan Goram, CIO-Chief Information Officer at Lasell University
Stephanie Hebert, M.A. Collections Manager, Lasell Fashion Collection
Christopher Lynett, CMO- Chief Marketing Officer at Lasell University
Kathleen Potter, M.B.A Dean of the School of Fashion at Lasell University
Stephen Fischer, M.F.A. Professor of Graphic Design at Lasell University & Photographer of the Ackermann Collection
David Parnes, President of David Parnes Photography & Photographer for the Lasell Fashion Collection
Matthew Searth, 2021 Fashion Merchandising and Management at Lasell University & Photographer for the Lasell Fashion Collection


1 "Rudolph Ackermann," The Fitzwilliam Museum, accessed 25 November, 2020. https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/hiddenhistories/biographies/bio/commemoration/ ackermann_biography.html.
2 R. Ackermann's Repository of Fashions, no. 1 (1829), accessed November 25, 2020. https://books.google.com/books?id=d1AEAAAAQAAJ&printsec =frontcover&dq=ackermann+fashion+repository&hl=en&sa=X&ved= 0CCQQ6AEwAWoVChMI7P3ikO-SxwIVi5IeCh3xqwQS#v=onepage&q&f=false.
3 Fred Davis, Fashion, Culture, and Identity, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994, p.5.

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Early 19th Century Ackermann Illustrative Plates Collide With Contemporary Fashion:<br />Lasell University Students Explore Intrinsic Links Between History and Modern Design
Print, Intaglio
Print, Intaglio