Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


Aristocratic woman played an important role disseminating design, notably, Archduchess Isabella in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her influence on aesthetics and production of peasant inspired design was considerable at the turn of the nineteenth century. A member of the wealthiest branch of the Habsburg family, she lived on vast modern, well equipped, mechanised estates in Hungary. Significantly, the brightly coloured costumes of the BÈllye estate's Sok·c Slav immigrants from the south attracted her attention. She developed social and economic concerns for aspects of peasant life. She was ambitious, had a feel for politics and worked to provide opportunities for rural women to gain income. She promoted education and embroidery training initiatives that drew support of the Austro-Hungarian government. Another motivating factor was the impact of the Austro-Hungarian exhibition embroideries in a special pavilion at the Paris Women's Arts Handicrafts Exhibition in 1892. The same year Home Industries were established for women to learn embroidery and sell designs both at home and abroad. Isabella and her family wore CÌfer Home Industry designs and as a skillful photographer she promoted the CÌfer school in the Sunday Journal in 1898. Later, in 1902 Norman and Stacey's Tottenham Court Road Emporium sold Home Industry dress. This paper highlights Isabella's influence on peasant inspired dress including rare unpublished and published photographs to reveal her political influence on dress aesthetics, production, materials and use.