Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los Angeles, California, September 10–14, 2014,


Copyright 2014 by the author(s).


France, so renowned for its fashion, has only recently begun to consider it as a subject of theoretical study; and French historiographical projects, when they dealt with fashion, were primarily concerned with the history of dress and the work of the designers, but hardly took the textile fabrics into account. The stuff of which fashion is made, its particular materiality, its history and its impact on the history of dress and fashion were too often overlooked.

In 2012, the President of the University Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) decided to start a program for the study of dress, textiles and fashion at its Department of Art History. The project took shape in 2013 with courses beginning in September of that year, taught by Pascale Gorguet Ballesteros, curator in chief at Palais Galliera. The University of Paris-IV pursues the objective of stimulating and establishing scholarly research in the field of dress, fashion and textile history.

The Sorbonne program is concerned with historical and methodological approaches to a history of dress, textiles and fashion. Textile fabrics are considered for themselves as well as in their relationships with dress and with fashion. Innovation in textiles is one of the main motors of fashion. Thus dress, textiles and fashion are united in a triangular relation - inextricable, but real and worth researching.

Furthermore, the Centre André Chastel, renowned French research centre specialising in Art History and affiliated to Paris-Sorbonne, is developing a research program in the field of Materials directed by Jérémie Cerman, Associate professor in the decorative arts. Textiles are now part of this field as their study is included both in the teaching and the research programs.