Published Bloomsbury Feb 2018

Through their metaphorical and material qualities, textiles can be seductive, exciting, intimate and, at times, shocking and disquieting. This book is the first critical examination of the erotically charged relationship between the surface of the skin and the touch of cloth, exploring the ways in which textiles can seduce, conceal and reveal through their interactions with the body.

From the beautiful cloth which is quietly suggestive, to bold expressions of deviant sexuality, cloth is a message carrier for both desiring and being desired. The drape, fold, touch and feel, the sound and look of cloth in motion, allow for the exploration of identity as a sensual, gendered or political experience. The book features contributions on the sensory rustle and drape of silk taffeta and the secret pleasures of embroidery, on fetishistic punk street-style and homoerotic intimacy in men’s shirts on screen, and a new perspective on the role of cloth and skin in the classic film Blade Runner. In doing so, it interrogates experiences of cloth within social, historical, psychological and cultural contexts.

Divided into four sections on representation, design, otherness and performance, The Erotic Cloth showcases a variety of debates that are at the heart of contemporary textile research, drawing on the fields of art, design, film, performance, culture and politics. Playful, provocative and beautifully illustrated with over 50 color images, it will appeal to students and scholars of textiles, fashion, gender, art and anthropology.

List of contributors
List of illustrations
Foreword, Mary Schoeser
AcknowledgementsAn introduction to The Erotic Cloth
Prof. Lesley Millar and Prof. Alice KettleI. The representation of cloth
1. Folds, scissors and cleavage in Giovanni Battista Moroni’s Il Tagliapanni
Angela Maddock
2. A perverted taste: Italian depictions of cloth and puberty in mid-nineteenth-century marble
Dr Claire Jones
3. Stitching up: embroidering the sex life of a fetishist image-maker
Dr Nigel Hurlstone

II. Making and remaking the cloth
4. The rustle of taffeta – the value of hapticity in research and reconstruction of an eighteenth-century Sack-back dress
Debra Roberts
5. The embroiderer’s jouissance: stitching a feminine identity in an environment of mining machismo
Ruth Hingston
6. Flying in the face of fashion; how through punk, fetish and sexually orientated clothing made it into the mainstream
Prof. Malcolm Garrett in conversation with Prof. Alice KettleIII. The alternative cloth
7. Present or absent shirts: creation of a lexicon of erotic intimacy and masculine mourning
Prof. Catherine Harper
8. Empowering the Replicant: visual and haptic narratives in Blade Runner
Caroline Wintersgill and Dr Savithri Bartlett
9. Caressing cloth: the warp and weft as site of exchange
Dr Catherine DormorIV. The performing cloth
10. Curvatures of cloth: William Hogarth’s Line of Beauty and ‘The heart of true eroticism’ in serpentine dance
Dr Georgina Williams
11. The echoes of erotic cloth in film
Liz Rideal
Masako Matsushita in conversation with Prof. Lesley MillarAfterword: Erotic cloth – the case of kimono
Yuko Ikeda


“This nuanced and thoughtful set of essays successfully combines the academic with the personal and creative, exploring the different ways in which cloth can relate to the body.” –  Sorcha O’Brien, Kingston School of Art, UK, “A range of sensual engagements with cloth and its representation, this fascinating collection is packed with vivid imagery and insight.” –  Barbara Brownie, University of Hertfordshire, UK, The Erotic Cloth is a delight to read. Exploring intimacy, erotica, fetish and sexual expectations, Kettle and Millar have gathered research that will profoundly affect fashion scholarship.” –  Sandra Alfody, Novia Scotia College of Art & Design, Canada, “Millar and Kettle’s formidable knowledge offers a stimulating exploration of our sensual relationship with cloth. An immensely satisfying book, and essential reading for anyone with a passion for fabric.” –  Susan Prichard, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts at Royal Museums Greenwich, UK,