Something about me

Elizabeth McMahon is a scholar and an artist.  She takes pride in both her research, which focuses on the politics, social context, and construction of sixteenth-century dress, as well as the custom-fitted gowns she has crafted. She is a PhD candidate at Bard Graduate Center. She has an MA in Museum Studies: Clothing & Textiles from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She completed her BS at Bowling Green State University of Ohio, and also took an AA in Fashion Design at the FIT (1988), where her final garment was chosen for both the annual students’ fashion show and the “Best of Everything” show.

Since 1990 she has completed many historical reproduction and special occasion garments for herself and others. Since 1997 she has worked at the Library at FIT, where she helps others with their research and design projects.

After working in the fashion industry, she decided to pursue her interest in the social history of clothing, and returned to F.I.T. for an M.A. in Museum Studies with an emphasis on Fashion and Textiles (1999).  Her thesis, “The Interpretation of Historic Reproduction Costume for Presentation by Living History Sites” was awarded the Museum Studies program’s Excellence award.

Elizabeth currently works in the Gladys Marcus Library at F.I.T., where she curated the collection of fashion, textile, and interiors periodicals from around the world.  She also began the library’s collection of historical fashion forecasting materials.  More recently she manages much of the library’s social media presence, and she writes for the library here:  blog/   She has also taught in the Graduate Division at FIT and at Berkeley College. I have put my CV here if you’re interested in seeing classes I’ve taught or papers I have given.

Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor?

Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor?

In 2006 Elizabeth returned to school, this time to Bard Graduate Center.  Elizabeth’s dissertation topic, “‘Arrayed in the Robes of Royalty’: Clothes, colors and the creation of Tudor queenly status, 1509-1547”, explores her fascination with the court of Henry VIII, as well as the burgeoning ideal of princely magnificence which drove other sixteenth-century courts. She is currently hard at work on her dissertation.

Her other research interests include the history of textiles and their role in the global economy;  the nineteenth- and twentieth-century fashion industries and the rise of the designer; American domestic architecture of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries; the history and architecture of New York City; and the rise of color forecasting in the late-twentieth century fashion industry.  She has written catalog entries for BGC exhibitions (“‘Twixt Art and Nature'” 2009) and the Oxford Dictionary of Art Online, given papers and chaired sessions on dress and fashion at the annual International Congress of Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, directed M.A. theses at FIT, and worked in the garment collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum at F.I.T.  More recently, she developed a series of workshops (“Art Pilgrimages”) to encourage textile and dress scholars to interact with experimental archaeologists so that both can gain deeper understanding of medieval garments. The most recent pilgrimage was to London in October 2016, to coincide with the Victoria & Albert Museum‘s upcoming exhibition on Opus Anglicanum. Which was amazing, and I hope there will be more exhibitions to feature embroidery in the future.

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