Professor Caroline Evans

Professor of Fashion History and Theory

Central Saint Martins

Biography

Professor Evans is Research Leader in the Fashion Programme at Central Saint Martins where she convenes the Fashion History and Theory Research Group.

She studied art history at the University of Sussex. Her first book on fashion history and theory was published in 1989 and since then she has written extensively on twentieth-century and contemporary fashion. She has been a consultant to international fashion exhibitions at the V&A (London), Museum of London, Musée Galliera (Paris) and others. She is the author of several exhibition catalogue essays on designers including Paul Poiret, Hussein Chalayan and Victor & Rolf. 

She was the principal investigator for two large AHRB-funded projects, Fashion and Modernity, stage 1 (1999-2000) and stage 2 (2001-2004). From 2007-2010 she was the recipient of a Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship. She sits on several advisory and editorial boards, including Fashion TheoryThe International Journal of Fashion Studies, the Bloomsbury Fashion Photography Archive, and the ‘Dress Cultures’ series for I.B. Tauris Publishers. She lectures internationally and since 2010 she has been a visiting professor at the Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University.

Research interests

Twentieth-century and contemporary fashion; gender; fashion and silent cinema; modernism; history of the body; history of sensibilities; cultural memory; theories of vision and looking.

Research statement

My research interests are rooted in my long experience of teaching history and theory in the art school. In Women and Fashion (1989) I explored dress, gender and identity.

My interest in the intellectual and critical framing of contemporary fashion design, and in finding methodologies and voices with which to investigate it, culminated in Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness (2003) which explored how contemporary fashion was haunted by ‘the ghosts of modernity’. Growing directly from that project came a more archival and historical enquiry into modernism and the first fashion shows, The Mechanical Smile (2013). That project in turn engendered two new research interests: the relationship of fashion and film, and the capacity of fashion to evoke memory.

In 2013, with Marketa Uhlirova I co-curated the Fourth Fashion in Film FestivalI am currently in the early stages of a short book provisionally entitled Evocation: the Material and Immaterial Practices of FashionI hope to explore a paradox of fashion: on the one hand, its evanescence and immateriality, in perfume, gesture, and pose and, on the other, the capacity of surviving dress in the archive to act as a material mnemonic.

Students

Current students and thesis titles

Sally Bolton, The Death of the Fashion Image.

Renate Stauss(un)dressing the self: working with dress on concepts of self in therapeutic settings.

Rosemary WallinSustainable Luxury: Technology and Value.

Tamara TyerOf Space and Time: Film and the Female Performer.

Shinsuke NakanoFashion, Memory and History: fashion practice as remembering through craft and digital media.

Vija VilcinsFraming the garden through a nostalgic lens: representations of class and gender in English film during the period 1980 to 1990.

Completed students and thesis titles

Marco Pecorari, Fashion Remains: the epistemic function of fashion ephemera. PhD, Stockholm University, 2015.

Morna Laing, The ‘Woman-child’ in Fashion Photography, 1990-2015: Childlike Femininities, Performativity and Reception Studies. PhD, 2015.

Claire Barratt, Death, memory and mortality in contemporary jewellery (London 1980-2008), PhD, 2010.

Francesca Granata, The Bakhtinian Grotesque in Fashion Design from 1980 to the Present, PhD, 2010.

Jane Tynan, Representations of Soldiering, British Army Uniform and the Male Body During World War I, PhD 2009.

Lisa Stead, The Emotional Wardrobe, PhD 2006.

Selected research outputs