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Staging Fashion, 1880–1920: Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke, edited by Michele Majer


A BGC Focus Gallery Publication

Michele Majer, editor

Although Jane Hading (1859–1940), Lily Elsie (1886–1962), and Billie Burke (1884–1970) gained fame as stage actresses, their popular appeal also rested on their ability to cultivate a glamorous appearance. Their careers illustrate the early transformation of actresses into marketable commodities whose celebrity status depended on the consumption of their images. This celebrity, in turn, was used to market an array of beauty and fashion goods to women striving to emulate them.

The three women featured in Staging Fashion exemplify the factors that ensured success for 20th-century actresses. Each of these women was dressed by a leading couturier (or several couturiers), both onstage and offstage. In major cities such as New York, Paris, and London, actresses depended on exquisite, custom-made gowns both to secure principal roles and to maintain popularity. Their physical beauty, which was consistent with elite notions of class and race, was depicted on postcards and in popular fashion and theatre magazines and newspapers. Finally, these actresses developed distinct "personalities," which were conveyed by their stage roles and in numerous photos and articles.


Table of Contents

Susan Weber

Editor's Note and Acknowledgments

Selected Chronology: Theater, Fashion, and Culture. France, Great Britain, and the United States
Compiled by BGC Graduate Students

Staging Fashion, 1880-1920
Michele Majer

1. Dangerous and Influential Women: Actresses in Nineteenth-Century French Culture
Lenard R. Berlanstein

2. Lucile and the Theatricalization of Fashion
Sheila Stowell

3. Stylish Effervescence: Billie Burke and the Rise of the Fashionable Broadway Star
Marlis Schweitzer

Catalogue: The Actresses
Michele Majer with Maude Bass-Krueger, William DeGregorio, and Rebecca Perry

I. Jane Hadin

II. Lily Elsie

III. Billie Burke

Checklist of the Exhibition

Selected Performances
Compiled by BGC Graduate Students




Michele Majer
Assistant Professor at the Bard Graduate Center

Lenard R. Berlanstein
Commonwealth Professor of History at the University of Virginia

Marlis Schweitzer
Associate Professor of Theatre Studies at York University

Sheila Stowell
Free-lance producer and theater historian

1.00 LBS

Other Details


8.8 x 7 x 0.7 in.

Page count
208 pages, 168 illustrations

Publication date
February 2012

Paperback cover with flaps