Charlotte Nicklas is a dress historian with particular focus on the nineteenth century.
She is interested in all aspects of the history of fashion, dress and textiles particularly in their influence on and reflection of cultural concerns. Her research has centred on textual, literary and journalistic representations of fashion in nineteenth-century Britain and America.
Charlotte Nicklas is a lecturer in the History of Art and Design within the University of Brighton, where she has taught since 2006. Her main research interest is the history of dress and textiles. She received a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an MA in Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture from the Bard Graduate Center (New York). She was awarded her PhD from the University of Brighton in 2010. Her thesis examined the cultural contexts of the transition from natural to artificial textile dyes in the mid-nineteenth century.
While studying for her MA, Nicklas worked in the Exhibitions Department at the Bard Graduate Center, helping to organise exhibitions on a wide variety of design history topics, including Marimekko: Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture (2003-2004) and Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor (2006).
In 2004, Nicklas interned in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, assisting with research about the department’s collection of textile sample books.
From 1998 to 2002, Nicklas worked in the Department of Textile and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, managing departmental projects and helping with curatorial work.Charlotte Nicklas is interested in all aspects of the history of dress and textiles and, more broadly, material culture and the history of design. The focus of most of her research to date has been dress in Britain and the United States in the nineteenth century. At the centre of her research is the way in which dress and fashion both influence and reflect the cultural concerns of a particular historical period.
Nicklas is now working on a project exploring the roles that dress played in textual representations of history in nineteenth-century Britain. This is one facet of a longstanding interest in the representation of dress in various forms of literature.
Nicklas’s PhD thesis was titled ‘Splendid Hues: Colour, Dyes, Everyday Science, and Women’s Fashion, 1840-1875.’ This interdisciplinary study considered how the development of new textile dyes affected middle-class uses and discussions of colours in women’s dress in Britain and the United States. Popular attention to science and colour conditioned the reactions to these new dyes and the colours they made, creating an interested, informed group of consumers. Because of the technical accomplishments that led to their production, these dyes were considered visible evidence of scientific progress and the vivid colours provided opportunities for women to employ highly sophisticated rules concerning colour applied to dress. These discussions exemplify the dominant contemporary middle-class ideology of moderation, illustrating a tightrope of taste that women were strongly encouraged to walk. Nicklas’s thesis is only one aspect of an ongoing effort to map the technological, aesthetic, and ideological connections between science and dress.
Nicklas, Charlotte (2017) ‘It is the Hat that Matters the Most’: Hats, Propriety and Fashion in British Fiction, 1890–1930 Costume, 51 (1). pp. 78-102. ISSN 0590-8876
Nicklas, Charlotte and Pollen, Annebella (2015) Dress history: new directions in theory and practice [Edited Collections]
Nicklas, Charlotte and Pollen, Annebella (2015) Dress History Now: Terms, Themes and Tools In: Nicklas, Charlotte and Pollen, Annebella, eds. Dress History: New Directions in Theory and Practice. Bloomsbury, UK, pp. 1-14. ISBN 9780857855411
Nicklas, Charlotte (2013) One essential thing to learn is colour: harmony, science and colour theory in mid-nineteenth-century fashion advice Journal of Design History, 27 (3). pp. 218-236. ISSN 0952-4649
Taylor, Lou, Pollen, Annebella and Nicklas, Charlotte (2013) Silhouettes, Fashion and Image 1760-1960 [Edited Collections]
Nicklas, Charlotte (2013) Light, colour and language in mid-nineteenth century women’s fashion In: Kelley, Victoria and Adamson, Glenn, eds. Surface tensions: surface, finish and the meaning of objects. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719087516
Nicklas, Charlotte (2009) Splendid hues: colour, dyes, everyday science and women's fashion, 1840-1875. Doctoral thesis, University of Brighton.
Nicklas, Charlotte (2008) Exhibition review - The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957 Textile History, 39 (2). pp. 277-284. ISSN 0040-4969
Nicklas, Charlotte (2007) Exhibition review: Fashion in Colors Fashion Theory, 11 (2-3). pp. 369-376. ISSN 1362-704X