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Excited to see a wonderful review of B&B in the Times Literary Supplement. The reviewer, Jacqueline Banerjee, really captured what I was trying to convey :

“Jungnickel’s achievement is to recognize the extent to which women themselves took advantage of this marketing opportunity, plunging headlong into the world of technology and patents, and becoming as visible in the business world as they were on the roads.”

“The story is as extraordinary as the garments themselves. Sewing was more than a feminine accomplishment now that it had acquired a new status since the founding of the Royal School of Needlework in 1872. But cycle wear demanded another set of skills altogether, in which aesthetics met technology head-on – and not just through the invention of the sewing machine. All sorts of hidden devices were built into women’s cycling garments. Some were as simple as hidden pockets, or a fluffy garter to stop outer material clinging to the leg, outlining it immodestly as well as impeding motion. But more complicated patterns could involve “weights and pulleys, waxed cords, stitched channels, hooks, loops and buttoning systems”, allowing ordinary-looking dresses to be  switched into cycling wear as the occasion demanded. Jungnickel is particularly interested in these more ingenious costumes.”

“By examining the way “sewing, cycling and sociology” collided in the mid-1890s, Jungnickel flags up late Victorian women’s inventiveness, skill, determination and ambition. But she goes a step further. Not content with reproducing patterns and including contemporary advertisements for the finished products, she set to work with an interdisciplinary team to recreate the outfits. The results are modelled in photographs: the most attractive is probably the three-piece suit created by the early women’s rights activist Henrietta Müller. Along with Jungnickel’s spirited writing style, these photographs lift her project right off the page, and remind us of the hidden accommodations that women still make in order to advance in public life.”

The rest of the article is here.

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