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Caterina Tiezzi

MA work

Dressing for the Track: Elite Women, Fashion, and Society at Royal Ascot (1895–1914)

Royal Ascot evokes images of extravagant hats, elegant dresses, champagne, horses racing in the distance and the Queen, in an open carriage, waving to the crowd. These perceptions are so strongly associated with this Royal race meeting that some of them have been made the centre of the Ascot 2014 ad-campaign.  This features the work of contemporary artist David Mach, who has made a collage of over 200 pictures that sums up many of these iconic characteristics of Ascot. Although we might think of these attributes as traditional to this race meeting, they have been carefully designed over time. In a sense, design constitutes a great part of the history of the Royal races, this intended in a broad conception that includes, but is not limited to, the organisation of the event itself, the design of animals racing there and, also, the appearances of race-goers. Despite this, the study of design at Ascot has been largely neglected.

Within such a vast scope of study, my dissertation focuses on design as manifested in and in conjunction with the fashionable garments worn by Society women to Royal Ascot, between 1895 and 1914. Specifically, in my dissertation I have analysed press-provided representations of those dresses in relation to their wearers and the context in which these are seen. Secondly, their designs have been contrasted with the fashions of the period in order to understand what place these garments held within the broader history of fashionable dress. Thirdly, the advertisements for and the production of these garments have been examined. All this to propose that indeed the gamble of dressing for Ascot was a complex task of designing, which had a significant toll on both wearers and producers. 


  • Caterina Tiezzi
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2014

  • Since being on the History of Design MA programme, I’ve learned new and key strategies to continue my exploration of the three subjects I find most compelling: fashion, technology and advertising. While at the college, I’ve researched, among other things, the design change manifested in Visa-sponsored Barclays' payment cards. Moreover, I’ve very much enjoyed analysing what high society women wore to the Royal Ascot race meeting between 1895 and 1914 for my dissertation. In the future I will continue my investigations of fashion, technology and advertising in new projects, aiming to make new contributions to these fields.

  • Degrees

  • BA Visual Studies, California College of the Arts, 2012
  • Experience

  • Gallery assistant, Royal NoneSuch Gallery, Oakland, California, USA, 2011–2012; Voluntary research inter, Fashion, Textile and Furniture Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014; Undergraduate exhibition coordinator, College Avenue Galleries, Oakland, California, USA, 2009–2011