Green ball gowns tinted with arsenic. Top hats made of mercury. Flammable crinoline. These are just some of the lethal fashions covered in the new book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present, which details the history of death by clothing.
A British reverend’s daughter named Barbara Johnson (1738-1825) kept a meticulous diary of the fabrics she used and details of the garments she made with them. The original diary is now a part of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection. It was reproduced in the 1980s and published under the title A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics.