Dr Shaun Cole

A former Head of Contemporary Programmes at the V&A, Shaun Cole is a fashion historian, curator and writer. He is Associate Dean, Postgraduate Communities.

An expert in men's fashion, specifically men's underwear and gay style, Shaun Cole has curated numerous exhibitions, including Black British Style (2004-5), Dressing the Male (1999) and Fashion on Paper (1997), all at the V&A. He has been a Trustee at The Costume Society since 2010 and is an Exhibition Advisory Board member for A Queer History of Fashion at FIT in New York and Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s at the V&A in London.

Shaun has written a number of books on fashion, inlcuding Fashion Media: Past and Present with Djurdja Bartlett and Agnès Rocamora (Bloomsbury, 2013), The Story of Men’s Underwear (Parkstone Press, 2010) and Don We Now Our Gay Apparel: Gay Men’s Dress in the Twentieth Century (Berg, 2000), as well as numerous journal articles and chapters in books on men's fashion and gay style. Shaun has recently completed the viva for his PhD (by previous publication), entitled ‘Sexuality, Identity and the Clothed Male Body’.

What inspires and excites you in terms of your area of practice?

People and clothing. As a cultural and fashion historian I am interested in people’s lives and how their dress and fashion choices reflect their identities.

What key advice would you give to someone applying for the course?

Be passionate about your subject. It doesn’t matter what aspect of fashion, dress or clothing that you are interested in, you need to demonstrate that you believe in the validity of your area of interest and are passionate about investigating it. You need to have an active and enquiring mind. And be prepared to work independently on your area of interest, with support from the academic team of course. The more you put into your idea, the more you will get out.