Fashion History, Theory and Practice
Professors Judith Clark, Caroline Evans, Amy de la Haye, Alistair O’Neill (Reader) and Marketa Uhlirová (Senior Research Fellow), have established a field of academically rigorous fashion research with a new relevance for industry and society through collaborative and individual research.
Evans led the Fashion and Modernity project (2001 – 2004) bringing together historians, theoreticians, curators and practitioners from across UAL and beyond to explore fashion in relation to the idea of ‘being modern’. One of the outcomes of this project, the book Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness (2003) provided a blueprint for rethinking fashion history methodology and challenged older paradigms, while crediting a whole range of practitioners who produce contemporary fashion imagery.
Fashion and Modernity was Judith Clark’s 2004/05 exhibition Malign Muses/Spectres, which developed arguments made in Evan’s publication into visual and three dimensional forms, showing that critical curation and theory could intersect in a public forum. Valerie Steele referred to the exhibition as ‘paradigm breaking’.
A further outcome of Fashion and Modernity was O’Neill’s Wolf Suschitzy: Charing Cross Road in the 1930s, analysing the photographer’s images of London street life from the perspective of fashion as a social agent of metropolitan change. The exhibition was followed by a book on a similar theme, but focused on London, London London: After a Fashion (2007). Another project, Fashion Lives (2005), was the first fashion exhibition organised around sound rather than material objects, challenging ideas about what such an exhibition could contain.
Amy De la Haye
De la Haye’s curates and writes biographies of garments, exploring their meanings and values from use to museum. Lucile Ltd: London, Paris, New York and Chicago 1890s –1930s (2009) with Valerie Mendes, examined previously un-accessed work from the V&A archives. The accompanying catalogue The Land Girls: Cinderellas of the Soil (2009/10) scrutinised land girl uniform. In the exhibition, de la Haye exploited this material evidence to propose new forms of curation in historical and museum contexts.
Uhlirová’s Fashion in Film project (founded 2005) explores the intersections between film and clothing, arguing that existing film theories cannot explain the representation of fashion in film. She has curated Fashion in Film Festivals and publications exploring costume in relation to styling of crime and violence; spectacle and colour; and posed questions about politics and society, drawing parallels between many previously unlinked periods.