Documenting Fashion

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Documenting Fashion

Research groups and projects


Documenting Fashion

Drawing on itHistory of Dresss strong history in this field, these events bring together students, scholars and interested professionals from The Courtauld and beyond, to discuss dress, fashion and textiles. Focused on new research and innovative ways to analyse dress from a wide range of perspectives.

Events are focused on three key strands:

  • Addressing Images: a brown bag session each term that encourages open discussion on the significance of dress in a specific image.
  • Dress Talks a regular lunchtime talk and discussion where an invited speaker outlines an aspect of their current research.
  • Annual Conference, a focal point for the year’s events and a way to unite scholars from a wide range of disciplines to consider a particular theme that is pertinent to current dress and fashion studies.
    Previous subjects have included: Documenting Fashion: Re-thinking the Experience and Representation of Dress in 2014, Women Make Fashion/Fashion Makes Women in 2015, and the forthcoming conference, Posing the Body: Stillness, Movement, and Representation.

We are active on digital media and many of our events are covered on our blog Documenting Fashion and you can follow Rebecca Arnold on Instagram @documenting_fashion

Fashion Research NetworkWe are also affiliated with the Fashion Research Network – co-founded by Katerina Pantelides and Alexis Romano, both recent Courtauld doctoral students, and Nathaniel Daffyd Beard and Ellen Sampson of the RCA.  This organisation promotes the work of PhD and  early career scholars in the field through its events and publications.

2017-18 Events

Kenneth Paul Block illustration, 1978. History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art

This year continued our programme of events aiming to engage a wide audience with speakers from varied branches of fashion history and practice. Our Addressing Images series remains very popular – a great way to gather together anyone interested in dress and its representation and discuss images in detail. Leah Gouget-Levy, a PhD student studying the Seeberger Brothers photographs led the sessions brilliantly, and even got out our incredible collection of Kenneth Paul Block fashion illustrations out for participants to discuss.


Pietro della Vecchia (1603-78), A fortune-teller reading the palm of a soldier. Oil on canvas (Wellcome Library, London)

For our Dress Talks sessions we invited Dr Elizabeth Currie to discuss her research on Renaissance dress. Her talk, ‘Crossing Boundaries: Dress and Exclusion in Italy, 1550-1650’ was a fascinating exploration of fashion on the margins of Italian society and prompted a lively debate about otherness and representation.

Frida Wannerberger and Velwyn Yossy illustrations

During the summer, we held two events addressing contemporary fashion. First, fashion illustrators Frida Wannerberger and Velwyn Yossy talked about how they began their careers as artists, their influences and the role of illustration in contemporary fashion. Then, at the end of term we held a live recording of the podcast The Conversations with Jason Campbell and Henrietta Gallina -who focused on the role of images and writing in contemporary fashion. Campbell is a leading stylist and trend forecaster, Gallina is a marketing and digital strategy expert, and it was a wonderful opportunity for our audience to engage with current issues within the fashion industry.  


Jack Allison, New York, 1938, Library of Congress

We also held a conference, organised jointly with David Peters Corbett and the Centre for the Study of American Art. Titled Passing: Fashion in American Cities, and with funding from the Terra Foundation the conference included an international array of speakers and sparked important debate about identities, imitation and style. Papers from the conference will be published in a Special Issue of the journal Fashion Theory in July 2020.

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