Rebecca Arnold - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Rebecca Arnold

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Dr Rebecca Arnold

Senior Lecturer in History of Dress & Textiles

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 and 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.

Her current book project, Documenting Fashion: Modernity and Image in America, 1920-60 considers dress in relation to popular visual culture and through the lens of sensory theory, history of emotion, and memory studies.

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
  • Documentary Photography

Teaching 2017-18

  • MA History of Art: Documenting Fashion: Modernity, Film and Image in Europe and America, 1920-60

PhD Supervision


  • Leah Gouget-Levy, ‘The Séeberger frères’ ‘reportage photographique de mode’, 1919-1939 : temporality and experience in early twentieth century fashion photography’

Recently completed

  • Clare Backhouse, ‘Seventeenth-Century Print and Dress: the Ballads of the Samuel Pepys Collection’, 2012
  • Michelle Jones (RCA), ‘Tweeds and Tiaras: London Couture and the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers,’ 2015
  • Elizabeth Kutesko, ‘Fashioning Brazil: Globalization and the representation of Brazilian women’s dress in National Geographic since 1988’
  • Katerina Pantelides, ‘Russian Émigré Ballet and the Body: Paris and New York c.1920-1950’
  • Alexis Romano, ‘Constructions of ‘Modern’ Design, 1952-1973: Pret-a-Porter, Paris, and the Image of Women’
  • Lucy Moyse, ‘Danger in the Path of Chic: Violence in Fashion between the World Wars, in London, Paris and New York’

Recent publications


  • 30 Second Fashion (Ivy Press, 2016)
  • Fashion: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • cover-American Look ArnoldThe American Look: Sportswear, Fashion & the Image of Women in 1930s and 1940s New York, (London and New York: I.B.Tauris/Palgrave, 2008)
  • Fashion, Desire & Anxiety: Image & Morality in the 20th Century (IB Tauris, 2001)


  • ‘The New Rococo: Sofia Coppola and Contemporary Fashions in Femininity,’ in Rococo Echo: Art, History & Historiography from Cochin to Coppola, eds, Katie Scott and Melissa Hyde, (Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2014)
  • ‘Wife Dressing: Designing Femininity in 1950s New York,’ in Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish and the Meaning of Objects, eds. Victoria Kelley and Glenn Adamson (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).
  • ‘Violence in Fashion Imagery,’ 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 & New York: Routledge, 2010)

Other current/ongoing activities

  • Editorial Board Member, Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture
  • International Advisory Board, West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History & Material Culture
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Bande à part
    Rebecca Arnold & Beatrice Behlen (Museum of London) discuss fashion – listen to our personal fashion views in our weekly catch up calls.

You can subscribe to the podcasts via SoundCloud or iTunes.

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