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

PhD Supervision


  • Leah Gouget-Levy, ‘The Séeberger frères’ ‘reportage photographique de mode’, 1919-1939 : temporality and experience in early twentieth century fashion photography’
  • Nadya Wang, ‘Accidental Career Girl to Working Mother of the Year: Her World Magazine and the Construction/Evolution of Singaporean Women’s Identity/Identities, 1975-1990’
  • Niall Billings, ‘Balletomane: an exploration of dance and the body during interwar Britain’
  • Claudine Seroussi, ‘‘Bijoux d’aujourd’hui’: Recontextualising French jewellers, 1921-1930’

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’, 2016
  • Katerina Pantelides, ‘Russian Émigré Ballet and the Body: Paris and New York c.1920-1950’, 2016
  • Alexis Romano, ‘Constructions of ‘Modern’ Design, 1952-1973: Pret-a-Porter, Paris, and the Image of Women’, 2016
  • Lucy Moyse, ‘Danger in the Path of Chic: Violence in Fashion between the World Wars, in London, Paris and New York’, 2016

Recent publications


  • 30 Second Fashion (Ivy Press, 2016)
  • Fashion: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • The 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 (I.B. Tauris, 2001)


  • ‘Pose,’ in Antawan Byrd & Elizabeth Siegel, eds., The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography & Media (The Art Institute of Chicago, forthcoming, 2022)
  • ‘Fashion, Desire, Anxiety & Kanye West,’ in Elisa de Wyngaert, ed., E/Motion (Lanoo, forthcoming 2021)
  • Co-edited with Kutesko, E, ‘Passing Special Issue’ Fashion Theory – Journal of Dress Body and Culture, vol. 24, no. 4, 2020
  • ‘Imagining New Lives: Avedon’s Advertising Legacy’ in Avedon Advertising, eds. Richard Avedon, The Richard Avedon Foundation, Laura Avedon, James Martin and Rebecca Arnold, (New York: Abrams Books, 2019)
  • ‘The Kodak Ensemble: Fashion, Images and Materiality in 1920s America’ in Fashion Theory, 2019 
  • Fashion, History & Theory,’ in Cally Blackman & Howells Davies, eds., Fashion Central Saint Martins (London: Thames & Hudson, 2019), pp.176-7
  • ‘Prince’ in If I was your girlfriend: A JamBelmacz (2018)
  • ‘Behind the Scenes with Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Toni Frissell: Alternative Views Of Fashion Photography In Mid-Century American’ in Fashion Studies, no. 1, 2018
  • ‘Luxury, Luxe, Luxus: Redefining Fashion for the New Millenium’ in Margiela: The Hermes Years, (Antwerp: Lannoo Publishers, 2017)
  • co-edited with Faulkner, K, Pantelides, K & Shinkle, E, ‘Fashion Theory, Vol 21, Issue 2: Posing the Body’ Fashion Theory – Journal of Dress Body and Culture, vol. 21, no. 2, 2017
  • ‘Fashion in Ruins: Photography, Luxury & Dereliction in Postwar London’ in Journal of British Visual Culture, vol. 21, no. 4, 2016
  • ‘Fashion and War in Popular Culture’, Reviews in History, 2015
  • ‘Le Style Americaine’ in Sport et Mode, ed. L Rolland-Bertrand, (Nice: Musee National du Sport, 2015)
  • ‘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, eds. Jane Pavitt & Glenn Adamson, (V&A Museum, 2011)
  • ‘The Role of Couture in the History of Fashion,’ in eds. Giorgio Riello and Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, Fashion-able Histories, (Bruno Mondadori, 2010)
  • ‘Women Designing Modernity,’ for The History of Fashion Reader, eds. Giorgio Riello & Peter McNeill, (London & New York: Routledge, 2010)


  • ‘Drapery, Fashion, Ghosts’, in Issue No4: Pan’s Ghost Stories, Pan & The Dream (August 2020)
  • ‘Silver’, Issue No3: PAN’s Trip to the Moon, Pan & The Dream, (December 2019)
  • ‘Jake Wood Evans: Between Two Worlds’, Issue No4: PAN’s Ghost Stories, Pan & The Dream (August 2019)
  • ‘Hands of Art: Art Smith’ in Hearts Magazine, Issue 5 (Autumn Winter 2018)

Other current/ongoing activities

  • Currently writing Documenting Fashion: Dress & Visual Culture in Interwar America (Bloomsbury)
  • Series Editor, Fashion: Visual & Material Interconnections, Bloomsbury/Courtauld Institute
  • Principal Investigator of AHRC Networking Project, Fashion Interpretations
  • 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 Higher Education Academy