BA (King's College, University of London), MA (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London), PhD (University College London)

Contact details

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House

London WC2R 0RN

+44 (0)20 7848 2407

Rebecca Arnold was educated at King’s College, London (BA Hons History, 1990), The Courtauld Institute of Art (MA History of Dress, 1993) and University College London (PhD, 2006).    Before joining The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2009, she was a Research Fellow and Lecturer in the History of Design Department at the Royal College of Art and a Visiting Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2006, she was the first Guest Professor at the Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University.  In 2001, she set up and ran the BA (Hons) Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. 


Research Interests

  • Ready-to-wear fashion
  • Interwar French couture
  • Fashion and modernity
  • Dress and the body
  • Dress and the senses
  • Film and fashion
  • Dress and the everyday
  • American fashion
  • Fashion photography

Courses taught in 2010-11

Titles of PhD Theses Supervised - Ongoing

  • Fashioning the Other: Globalisation and the Representation of Latin American Dress in National Geographic since 1996
  • Constructions of 'Modern' Design, 1952-1973: Pret-a-Porter, Paris, and the Image of Women
  • The Russian Ballet Body C.1920-50: Stage, Screen and Fashion
  • Violence in Fashion, c. 1919-39
  • Seventeenth-Century Print and Dress:  The Ballads of the Samuel Pepys Collection


Forthcoming Publications

'Wifedressing: Designing Femininity in 1950s American Fashion,' in Glenn Adamson and Victoria Kelley, eds., Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish and the Meaning of Objects (MUP: 2013)

‘The New Rococo: Sofia Coppola and Fashions in Contemporary Femininity,' in Melissa Hyde and Katie Scott, eds., Rococo Echoes (SVEC: 2014)


Recent publications


The American Look, book cover

A Short History of Fashion, book cover

Fashion, Desire and Anxiety book cover

‘Fashion, Violence and Hyperreality,’ in Postmodernism, Jane Pavitt & Glenn Adamson, eds., V&A Museum, 2011.

‘The Role of Couture in the History of Fashion,’ in Giorgio Riello and Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, eds.,Fashion-able Histories, Bruno Mondadori, 2010.

‘Women Designing Modernity,’ for The History of Fashion Reader, Giorgio Riello & Peter McNeill, eds., (London 2010& New York: Routledge), 2010.

The Concise Dictionary of Dress,’ (2010)

Fashion: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, 2009)

The American Look: Sportswear, Fashion & the Image of Women in 1930s and 1940s New York, (London & New York: I.B.Tauris/Palgrave, 2009)

Movement and Modernity: New York Sportswear, Dance and Exercise in the 1930s and 1940s,’Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, vol. 12, no. 3, September 2008

‘ “Sometimes the Truth is Wicked:” Fashion, Violence and Obsession in Leave Her to Heaven,’ with Adrian Garvey, in Marketa Uhlirova, ed., If Looks Could Kill: Cinematic Images of Fashion and Violence, (London: Koenig/Fashion in Film Festival, 2008)

Fashion & Ethnicity’ (2008)

Modern Fashions for Modern Women: The Evolution of New York Sportswear in the 1930s,’Costume, vol. 41, 2007

‘Madeleine Vionnet: A Case Study,’ in Bernardo Valli, Patrizia Calefato & Benedetta Barzini, eds., Dress & Ethics: Proceedings of the ‘Dress & Ethics’ conference, University of Urbino, (Rome: Littore, 2003) 

Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania,’ in The Englishness of English Dress, Christopher Breward, Becky Conekin and Caroline Cox, eds, (Berg, 2002)

Looking American: Louise Dahl-Wolfe's Fashion Photographs of the 1930s and 1940s,’ Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, vol. 6, no. 1, February 2002

Fashion, Desire & Anxiety: Image and Morality in the 20th Century (I B Tauris, 2001)

Vionnet & Classicism’ in Vionnet, Judith Clark Costume Gallery (2001)

The Brutalised Body,’ Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, vol. 3, no. 4, November 1999

Heroin Chic,’ Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, vol. 3, no. 3, August 1999


Related links



Dress; Fashion; Body; Modernity; Ready-to-wear; Couture; New York; London; Photography; Sportswear.