During a semester abroad in the United Kingdom I became enthralled with the majesty of English and Scottish history. I marveled at the extravagant castles and pageantry of the medieval era, namely the prodigious gowns worn by Elizabeth I. I also began to explore how these large garments related to the female experience. Although there are many examples of women throughout history using beautiful and dramatic clothing to establish power in a situation, by far the most famous is that of Queen Elizabeth I of England. While the convention of large gowns and collars began in France, Elizabeth I adopted those fashions, increased their size and adorned them with gold and jewels. These costumes announced her authority by making her the most visually dominant person in the room, thus establishing her as a powerful figure during an era when women were considered insipid and weak. I was inspired by the subject and began creating two series of work based on historical clothing.

In the first series, Territorial Defense, I imbue the psychology of adornment with my own need for personal safety. Although the majority of the men I have encountered throughout my life have been respectful, I have also met several that have been physically and verbally aggressive in the manner they court women. Finding this behavior to be a common problem for many women, I began to imagine ways that a woman could establish her personal boundaries to discourage these negative interactions. This has resulted in a series of adornment that creates a space around the wearer with protruding wires. The linear design is one of grace and elegance so that the wearer looks beautiful, while the extending wires taper into spikes that send a clear message of protection and strength. This series addresses the feelings of frustration and anger generated by gender power struggles as well as the empowerment one can experience through dramatic, assertive adornment.

The second series consists of garments created with insulated copper wire. I chose wire as the medium because it is a basic industrial material, yet when manipulated by crochet and other textile techniques, it can be transformed into elegant adornment. This juxtaposition of Elizabethan body adornment and contemporary materials links the historical design to the present day. Another aspect of the wire I enjoy is it’s reflective quality. When illuminated, the surface mimics the jewels with which Queen Elizabeth I adorned herself. Although many of the pieces are on a much smaller scale than the Monarch’s, I feel that they communicate some of the drama and elegance conveyed in Elizabethan Pageantry.



Elizabethan Rebato
Fabricated Aluminum
14 x 38 x 24"

Elizabethan Collar
Fabricated Copper, Prismacolor
48 x 4"

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