Spring 2014 Friends Lecture Series


Documenting Modernity: Fashion, Film and Image in America & Europe, 1920 - 1945:

The Quintessential Billie Holiday

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

17.30 - 18.45, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Photo of Billie Holiday CDs with her face on the front
Photo: Syd Shelton

Speaker(s): Professor Carol Tulloch (Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Rebecca Arnold






Billie Holiday’s prowess as a ‘jazz musician’ remains prevalent today. The coverage in November 2013 by the BBC of the song Strange Fruit and its resonance since Billie Holiday first performed it at Café Society in 1939 is exemplary of this. Billie Holiday recorded the song on 20 April of that year. On the other side of the vinyl she recorded Fine and Mellow. Billie Holiday’s performance of the latter on American television in 1957 is seen as a definitive piece of jazz history. As part of the preparation for, and performance of these songs, Billie Holiday wore some of her iconic style details, notably the Gardenia corsage, ponytail hairstyle and twinset knitwear. This illustrated talk looks at the style narratives of Billie Holiday, her meticulous pursuit of modernity, at two points in her life.

Carol Tulloch is Professor of Dress, Diaspora and Transnationalism at the University of the Arts London, based at Chelsea College of Art and Design. She is a member of the Transnational Arts, Identity and Nation Research Centre (TrAIN) and the TrAIN/V&A Fellow at the V&A Museum. Her recent work includes curating the exhibitions: A Riot of Our Own (2008-2012), International Fashion Showcase: Botswana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone (2012), and the publications: A Riot of Our Own (2012) ‘Buffalo: Style with Intent’ (2011) and ‘Dress and the African Diaspora’, a special issue of Fashion Theory, Journal of Dress, Body and Culture (editor, 2010).

The Spring 2014 Friends Lecture Series is prompted by the range of visual materials explored in the Andrew W Mellon Foundation MA Documenting Fashion: Modernity, Film and Image in Europe and America, 1920-45 led by Dr Rebecca Arnold and Dr Heather Norris Nicholson. As such it brings together leading scholars in the fields of dress and film studies to consider the ways fashion, non-fiction film and documentary images can reveal new ways to understand dress, style and visual culture.


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