• Jane Desmarais


Almost ten years ago, in 2014, Goldsmiths organized a conference entitled ‘Decadence and the Senses’, which aimed to explore the decadent sensorium and its representation in literature and visual culture from classical to modern times. Decadent studies was an emerging field then, defining itself principally around literary studies, but a number of the conference papers were richly interdisciplinary. One such paper was Liz Renes’ on John Singer Sargent’s 1884 painting Madame X and the ‘aesthetics of sculptural corporeality’. She tantalized us with a discussion of how the decadent aesthetics of clothes and cosmetics disrupted Victorian conventions. Since then, however, despite the provocations of the 2014 conference and with the exception of a few interventions (including most recently Catherine Spooner’s essay on ‘Fashion: Decadent Stylings’ in the Oxford Handbook of Decadence), the worlds of decadence studies and fashion have seldom collided. It is with enormous and long-awaited pleasure therefore that Volupté is the platform for a selection of new critical and creative explorations on decadence, aestheticism, fashion, textiles, accessories, and cosmetics.