Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Susan V. Webster

Committee Member

Regina Root

Committee Member

Elena Phipps


This dissertation studies the development of fashion and its representation in the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Building upon previous scholarship on portraiture, pictures of types, and dress in colonial Spanish America, this dissertation bridges the study of art history, design history, and material culture with social and economic history. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach that combines the visual analysis of portraits and pictures of types with the material study of extant garments and textiles, textual analysis of travelers’ chronicles, and archival research into inventories, wills, dowries, and commercial accounts. Divided into four thematic chapters, this dissertation examines the complex dynamics that shaped discourses about luxury, fashionability, and identity at the intersection of Andean and European worldviews in the eighteenth-century Viceroyalty of New Granada. In portraiture, elite Spanish identities were constructed from a repertoire of luxury that endowed European ideas of ostentation with the Andean appreciation for luminescence. Fashion developed as a corporeal practice of assemblage that reflected the multiethnic society of New Granada, evidenced, in particular, by three specific styles of dress endemic to the region: the faldellín (an A-shaped, calf-length skirt worn in the colonial Andes), the pollera (a full skirt used as a petticoat by Spanish women but often seen as an outer skirt in the Americas), and the bolsicón (an apron-like bag worn by women over their abdomens). These garments and other forms of fashionable attire were often created by Indigenous weavers and tailors, who translated the preinvasion “textile primacy” into the making of cloth and clothing in late-colonial New Granada. Despite the inherently Indigenous character of fashion in this colonial context, the rise of costumbrismo in the nineteenth century endowed fashion with new discourses that shaped—and populated—the nascent “Mestizo” nations, thus largely erasing the strong Andean legacy from the history of fashion and the textile arts in present-day Colombia and Ecuador. By uncovering the significant Indigeneity of fashion in late-colonial New Granada, this study provides new layers of meaning with which to understand the entangled histories of art, fashion, and textiles in eighteenth-century Spanish America.




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