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Portrait of Daniel James Cole

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Daniel James Cole

  • School of Art & Design
  • Fashion Design Department

The History of Modern Fashion

Co-Author: Nancy Deihl

Co-authored with Nancy Deihl (NYU Steinhardt Graduate Costume Studies) this book explores fashion not simply from an aesthetic point of view but also as a manifestation of social and cultural change. Focusing on fashion from 1850, the authors consider the evolution of womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear. The book looks at the dissemination of style and the mechanisms of change, at the relationship between fashion and the visual, applied, and performing arts, the intertwined relationship between fashion and popular culture, the impact of new materials and technology, and the growing globalization of style.

Cover of The History of Modern Fashion

How did you come up with the idea?
Laurence King’s commissioning editor came to me and asked for it while I was at work on another book. I brought Nancy on board as I realized I could not possibly do it alone.

What was your research process like?
Nancy and I spent most of our time with primary sources. While secondary sources were initially consulted, we would visit FIT Special Collections constantly throughout the process. As we got close to the present, sometimes interviews with designers were possible or at their stores. During the course of the creation of the book more and more information became available online, however many online sources were not there for us until after the manuscript was complete.

What was the hardest thing about publishing this piece?
Finding the time! And not being able to get permissions always for our first choices of images.

What did you learn?
Research can make or break a project; collaborations are a very important part of publishing in this field, cherish good ones; the more you write, the easier it gets - but never underestimate writer’s block to pop up now and then.

What are you proudest of?
Of the images we did get, I think they suit the text very well. Also, there were very very few authors before us in a survey style book to examine the role of the East in developing, and consuming, Western fashion.

  • Time to publication: 7 years
  • Professor at FIT since 2000
  • Teaches courses on fashion history, dress and textiles in world cultures, and costume design