Dr Emily Brayshaw is a research associate at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research interests include fashion, textile and performance costume designs in Europe and America between 1890 and 1930, including dress and costume during World War I, and the aesthetics of Kitsch. Emily works as a lecturer and tutor in Design History and Thinking and Fashion History and Theory at UTS and as a theatre costume designer in Sydney. She actively researches and publishes in all of these fields.
Emily's research interests include:
- Performance costume
- Fashion, dress and performance costume between 1890 and 1930
- Sustainability and ethics in fashion and in performance costume
- Aesthetics, including Kitsch
- Gender and the consumption of fashion
- World War I
- Music performance and dress
Emily's teaching areas include:
- Fashion history and theory
- Design history and theory
- Design thinking
- Critical thinking in Animation
Brayshaw, E 2019, 'Ethnographic spectacle and trans-Atlantic performance: Unravelling the costumes of vaudeville’s ‘Queen’, Eva Tanguay', Studies in Costume & Performance, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 25-41.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Eva Tanguay (1878–1947), although little known today, was one of the most famous and wealthy actresses in America in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Tanguay’s vaudeville success was built on her playing a wild, racialized, highly sexed, financially and socially emancipated woman, who was nonetheless affectionate and warm. Scholarship to date has considered how Tanguay used the offensive stereotype of the ‘Coon’ associated with African Americans to achieve her huge commercial success, but less attention has been paid to how she used the symbolism and materiality of her costumes in conjunction with her racialized appearance and comportment to achieve her stardom. This article, therefore, examines how Tanguay expressed her ‘wild’ persona using costumes and comportment that blended established stereotypes that her audiences associated with the era’s dime museums, natural history museums, circuses, ethnographic expositions, human zoos and the conventions of minstrelsy. This article also reveals that Tanguay’s costumes and comportment were greatly influenced by a popular French performance style, the chanteuse èpileptique. This genre indicated the importance of a bodily comportment which animated costumes that was a highly popular sexualized and racialized performance style associated with cancan dancers that came from France’s experiences of ethnographic entertainment. This article thus traces how, as Tanguay’s star rose, her performance style increasingly blended trans-Atlantic conventions in costume and comportment to craft a wild persona that expressed the era’s tensions around changing gender roles, immigration and race in America.
Brayshaw, E 2014, 'Embodying a Modern Luxury: The White Peacock, Distinction and Desire on the Early-twentieth-century Broadway Stage', Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 155-184.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This article examines the importance of two white peacock costumes within the context of an Orientalist aesthetic operating in the USA in the early twentieth century that combined the symbolism of wealth, beauty, fashion, desire and exclusivity with the display of luxury and taste on the Broadway stage. The costly, elaborate, white Peacock Gowns of the Parisian revue star Anna Held in Follow Mw (1916) and of the haute couture mannequin and showgirl known as "Dolores" in the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolics (1919) looked remarkably similar. More importantly, however, they conformed to the historical understanding of the white peacock's symbolism in the USA at a time when there was a shift, as documented by Marlis Schweitzer and Caroline Evans, towards standardisation in the way female bodies were presented to the American public on stage, in fashion and in photography. The argument here is that despite this shift, the enduring symbolism and materiality of luxury relating to the white peacock was used to distinguish two very very different performers from thousands of other actresses and models in the USA in the late 1910s.
Brayshaw, E 2019, 'Remembering Roland Leighton: uniforms as the materials of memory and mourning in World War I' in Newby, Z & Toulson, RE (eds), The Materiality of Mourning Cross-disciplinary Perspectives, Routledge, Oxon, pp. 40-60.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The period 1914 to 1918 was a time of shifting cultural categories in the United Kingdom that were the result of World War I and its corollaries: death, mourning, terror and shock. The young English poet Roland Aubrey Leighton (1895–1915) was engaged to the author Vera Brittain (1893–1970) when he was killed in France in 1915. Brittain recalls in her 1933 memoir that she was present when the uniform Leighton had been killed in was returned to his family, still filthy, shredded by bullet holes, muddy and bloodstained. The horrific relic subjected Leighton’s loved ones to the reality of the War, while its gruesome materiality threatened to destroy their ‘counter memories’ (to use Roland Barthes’ 1981 terminology) of Leighton, which had been preserved in photographs of him in military dress. Indeed, Leighton himself had been horrified by seeing fallen soldiers’ shredded uniforms on the battlefields, aware that each garment represented a wasted life. This chapter examines ephemera, popular culture and literary sources from the period to reveal how fallen soldiers’ uniforms traumatised the living, reminding them of the human body’s fragility and the failure of authority within the traumatic context of World War I