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Les Modes Magnifiques

September 02, 2021

Les modes magnifiques cover, created by Aine Hawthorne and Abby Detrick

Aine Hawthorne ’20 and Abby Detrick ’20 wrote, illustrated, and published a Rococo-era fashion history coloring book, Les Modes Magnifiques, which was recently printed with a grant from the Richard M. Packard Fund secured by Professor Jill Carey.

Hawthorne and Detrick, both graduates of the University’s School of Fashion and undergraduate honors program, originally conceptualized the project as a semester-long honors component. At the recommendation of Carey, professor of fashion and curator of the Lasell Fashion Collection, they turned the project into a full course and eventually, into a global exploration of Rococo fashion as part of their honors capstone.

“Professor Carey is incredibly passionate and pushed us forward to do things we would not have thought possible,” says Hawthorne.

The two-year project has come full-circle, says Detrick, who notes that in her and Hawthorne’s fashion history class, there was a lot of time spent out of class reviewing vocabulary and definitions related to the Rococo period. Now, their book will be used in that same class as an added learning resource.

“Having a more creative way to interact with the material will be a big asset for future students,” she says.

Throughout the project, they noticed a diversity gap in the written history of fashion and sought to correct that as well. She and Detrick investigated how people from different parts of the world influenced European fashion in the 18th century.

“Versailles was a gathering place for thousands of people from all over the world,” says Detrick. “That had a real impact on the fabrics and styles of the time.”

Carey helped them widen the focus of their project to incorporate other cultures and perspectives into the book.

“Fashion history is taught from a Western, Eurocentric perspective,” she says. “Aine and Abby brought diversity to the table with their book by incorporating a global element and featuring prominent men and women of the time from diverse backgrounds. They really thought about how they could make this book different from what was already out there.”

Full Court Illustration from Les Modes Magnifiques by Aine Hawthorne and Abby DetrickFull court illustration from Les Modes Magnifiques

Though they now have a tactile outcome of the project, both Hawthorne and Detrick continue to use the research, time management, and creative skills acquired throughout the process in their current endeavors.

“This took time and significant effort and required collaboration with a lot of people,” says Hawthorne, who will begin her graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh’s Art History: Dress and Textile History MLitt program next fall.

“Before we started this project, I don’t know that I would have thought myself capable of making a book, but we did! I would advise future honors program students to set their expectations high.”

Detrick currently works at Wayfair and sees the skills she acquired from this project paralleled in her role there.

“I learned how to follow through on longer-term projects and to surround myself with inspiring people. When you bring your interests into the workplace, you can use them as a tool for creating cool things you never would have thought of otherwise,” she says. “A lot of the perks of being in the honors program are self-driven, so I hope more students continue to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. Don’t just try to get it over with; do something that is interesting to you and work with professors and peers who are great influences on you.”

An initial print run of 250 books was facilitated by Framingham-based Wing Press. A donation of 50 copies has been given to the Boston Arts Academy for their students to use, and an additional set has been set aside for Lasell University students taking “Fashion History I: Imperial Societies to Industrialization.” Additional copies are also available for sale at studio1851, the University’s student-run boutique. Hawthorne and Detrick hope to join the community on campus during Friends, Family, and Alumni Weekend (October 16) for an in-person book signing, pending COVID regulations.