Documenting Fashion: Re-thinking the experience and representation of dress

Study Day


Tuesday, 06 May 2014

11.00 - 16.45, Research Forum South Room (with registration from 10.30)

drawing of knee-length dress design by Balenciaga
Balenciaga, Paris Fashions, 1938. Image: History of Dress Collection, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London

Speaker(s): Keynotes by Dr Rebecca Arnold (Oak Foundation Lecturer in History of Dress and Textiles, The Courtauld) and Beatrice Behlen (Senior Curator of Dress & Decorative Arts, Museum of London). Others include: Eva Bezverkhny (The Courtauld), Sara Chong Kwan (London College of Fashion), Jin Joo Ma (Royal College of Art), Lucy Moyse (The Courtauld), Dr Heather Norris Nicholson, (The Courtauld / University of Huddersfield), Katerina Pantelides (The Courtauld), Ellen Sampson (Royal College of Art), Dr Tereza Stehlíková (Royal College of Art), Professor Rachel Worth (The Courtauld / Arts University Bournemouth)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission but advance booking is essential. Now fully booked and with a waiting list; please contact researchforum@courtauld.ac.uk if you wish to be put on the waiting list. Note that it is possible that there may be places on the day in the event of "no shows".




Two women in 50s-style dress, hats, coats, gloves on fashion catwalkPhotographer unknown. Fashion for Beaux and Belles - 22...Courtesy London College of Fashion Archives

Organised by: Organised by Andrew W Mellon Foundation MA 2013/14: Documenting Fashion: Dress, Film and Image in Europe & America, 1920-45, Dr Rebecca Arnold (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Dr Heather Norris Nicholson (Andrew W Mellon Foundation / Research Forum Visiting Scholar - Mellon MA, 2013-14) and Professor Rachel Worth (Visiting Professor, 2013-14) in collaboration with Fashion Research Network: http://fashionresearchnetwork.co.uk; Alexis Romano and Katerina Pantelides (The Courtauld Institute of Art), with Nathaniel Dafydd Beard and Ellen Sampson (Royal College of Art)




This Study Day explores the relationship between personal experiences of dress and the more publically recognised fashion spectacle as it is communicated, staged, and mythologized through diverse media.

It will examine, for example, the experience of dress, as seen in documentary and amateur film and photography, in relation to actual dress and imagery presented in fashion magazines and cinema. It will therefore compare the ways a particular period’s fashion is remembered and the evidence provided by surviving garments and images – between experience and representation, the personal and the public.

By referring to particular case studies, whether still images, film clips or objects, speakers and delegates will be able to question the complex relationships between notions of  ‘real’ and ‘ideal,’ and address issues such as the role of memory, spectacularization, and the interplay of optic and haptic experience within these constructions. This will allow us to rethink universalising, linear narratives of dress and by extension taste, and think about ways to incorporate multiple, often contradictory sources in an inclusive, experiential, and often transhistorical understanding of dress. This investigation will especially focus on the contribution of under-explored resources, including, but not limited to, non-fiction film and documentary and amateur film and photographs.

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This Study Day has been made possible through the support of the Friends of The Courtauld


Fashion Research Network logoRoyal College of Art logo



Of possible interest:
Documenting Fashion: A Dress History Blog




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