In pictures: drop-dead fashion through history

From toxic top hats to poisonous face creams; lice-ridden shirts to flammable nightdresses, readers can now trace the fascinating – yet dangerous – history of fashion in a new book published by Bloomsbury

V0042226 Two skeletons dressed as lady and gentleman. Etching, 1862.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Two skeletons dressed as lady and gentleman. Etching, 1862.
1862 Published: February 8, 1862

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present focuses on the deadly fashion trends that appeared between the mid-18th century and the 1930s.

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The book, which features more than 125 images, charts the lethal history of women’s, men’s and children’s dress, in both myth and reality. Here, we bring you a selection of our favourite images…

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Before and after photographs of Mrs Brown, who was blinded by the aniline dye in her eyelash and eyebrow dye, 1933. Courtesy Food and Drug Administration Archives.

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‘Fire: The Horrors of Crinoline and the Destruction of Human Life’, hand-coloured lithograph. Wellcome Library, London.

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Half skeletal/half fashionable male and female memento mori (reminder of death) figurines, c180510, Wellcome Collection, London.

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Advertising postcard for Perkins non-flam flannelette, which were so strongly recommended by Coroners, c1910. Authors collection.

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T McLean, Revolving Hat, 1830. Wellcome Library, London.

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Ballerinas on fire at the Continental Theatre, 14 September 1861. This image featured in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on 28 September 1861. Courtesy of the House Divided Project at Dickinson College, US.

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Arsenical wreaths from the Maison Tilmans, Paris, Les Modes Parisiennes, 24 January 1863. Authors collection.

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Henry Tetlow’s ‘harmless’ swan down powder containing lead, c1875–1880. Author’s collection. Photograph by Emilia Dallman Howley.

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Advertisement for Lairds Bloom of Youth, 1863. Image courtesy of US Library of Congress.

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Arsenical Green Fashion Plate, 1840. London and Paris Magazine, Author’s collection.

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Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present is out now. To find out more, click here.