In May, she gave three lectures, entitled “The Role of Dress in Society,” “Do They Wear What We See?
” and “The Function of Dress in Art.” Then, unexpectedly, in the fall she passed away.
It grew and changed in response to politics, social change, and cultural influences. Images from 1415–17, shown in Plate 33, depict how fashion stopped for a brief moment after the French defeat at Agincourt. For example, exoticism is expressed in wide, jewel-trimmed borders on garments and turbans.
Sinfulness is expressed through high fashion, while older styles adorn the virtuous.
She focused on mathematics and science, two fields requiring objective and precise work, perhaps influencing her later research methodology.
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that her interests took a more artistic bent.
In 1964, she received her master's from the University of Texas, after writing a thesis about portraits of Paul Cézanne’s wife. Delaissé, a scholar of Belgian manuscripts, and became fascinated with medieval manuscripts.
Wieck left the project in 1985, while van Buren continued to work on her own, her database growing ever larger.The project focused on a tiny niche of the historical spectrum, but van Buren’s meticulous work had the potential to clarify a period that is quite muddy, creating a precise timeline to guide scholars in several disciplines.From this apparently modest seed her project grew like Jack’s beanstalk, resulting in a book, an exhibition, a prestigious lecture series, and an enormous contribution to fashion history and art history. Her early interests were far from the obscure reaches of medieval art history.This never-ending research project, it seemed, might finally take its place among the best scholarship of medieval history, but there was still more work to be done. Famous among historians for her book reviews, she once traveled all the way to Vienna to study the actual manuscripts used in the catalog she was assessing.Even in casual conversation, remembers Wieck, “she always wanted to know how you reached a certain opinion, why you thought what you thought.” Naturally, her research methods were extremely thorough as well.