Skip to main content

Donatella Barbieri

Principle Lecturer: Performance
London College of Fashion
Researcher Research
Donatella  Barbieri


Dr Donatella Barbieri is an award-winning researcher who channels her research into PhD supervision and into her teaching on the MA Costume Design for Performance that she founded at LCF, where she holds a post as Principal Lecturer in Design for Performance. As Senior Research Fellow, her research is centred around a range of international projects predicated on the material, social and cultural agency of costume and scenography. These include developing participatory methodologies through material embodiment, developing experimental processes of research in the costume archive as part of Joint Research Fellowship LCF & V&A, and the co-founding and leading of Studies in Costume and Performance research journal. The joint-fellowship has led to her current collaborations with knowledge holders from indigenous cultures and scholars from six continents, with whom she intends to co-create multiple platforms for marginalised and endangered community performance practices around costume and mask.

She wrote Costume in Performance: Materiality, Culture and the Body, awarded Best Publication at the Prague Quadrennial 2019 and shortlisted for the best book award by the Society of Theatre Research (2018). During the joint Research fellowship at the V&A, (2010-2014) through various projects she proposed costume as active agent, including in her published papers and the film-based Encounters in the Archives research project. Her participatory methodologies of material embodiment have been curated into research events internationally, most recently at World Stage Design 2022 in Calgary, Canada. She co-convenes the Scenography Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Research.

Through applications of phenomenology and new materialism she has pioneered methodologies of design-led performance making through costume, methods explored via three research projects: Designs for the Performer, AHRC-funded exhibitions, and masterclasses; methodological research on Jacques Lecoq's Laboratoire d’Étude du Mouvement; and the LES-Forest costume-led performance collaboration with DAMU, Prague. The latter was made possible through the Teaching and Professional Practice Fellowship, awarded to support the advancement of costume pedagogy at post-graduate level. Recent practice includes Material Interactions, A Journey through Movement, Prague Quadrennial 2019 and Wearing Space at Prague Quadrennial 2015. The costume installation Ariel As Harpy for Shakespeare in Ten Acts at the British Library, was also curated into World Stage Design 2017, at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts Taipei. The non-theatrical environment of the museum space has proven effective in foregrounding narrative body in performances for events such Revolutions in Costume, co-produced in the Raphael Cartoons Room at the V&A in 2012 as well as the Old Into New, 2011.

Collaborative dialogues with colleagues nationally and internationally have been critical to this research: Barbieri is a board member of the Society of British Theatre Designers, a member of the International Organisation of Scenographers (OISTAT) and of the Steering Committee of Critical Costume. Amongst the events she curated and co-curated as part of these overlapping practice and research communities, is Costume in Action, in Cardiff (2013), which was the first large gathering of events dedicated to research into different understandings of costume and performance.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

  • LCF Research Project Funding, Material Interactions
  • V&A and LCF, Encounters in the Archive

Research Outputs

Art/Design item



Current research students

  • Kamaira Anderson, Theorising Hip-Hop and Street Dance from London to Los Angeles through Clothing, Community, and Chorus (Lead supervisor)
  • Lisa Colpaert, ‘Screen-to-measure: A practice-based, archival and textual investigation of Edith Head’s film costume designs in 1940s ‘film noir’’ (Lead supervisor)
  • Berthe Fortin, Ritual Created Around the Crafting of Costume (Lead supervisor)
  • Jennifer Hayton, The archived costume object: the transfer and translation of historical and contemporary costume design practices through the costumes in the Central Saint Martin’s Museum and Study Collection Theatre Archives. (Lead supervisor)
  • Ilaria Martello, Space, Body, Costume: A reframing of costume as a spatial and temporal dynamic in contemporary ballet. (Lead supervisor)
  • Cassandra Schreiber, Expressions of gender in remakes (Lead supervisor)

Past research students

  • Matteo Augello, How Italian fashion is collected, preserved and analysed: unfolding the relationship between scholarship and production in the establishment of fashion collections in Italy, 1995-2015. (Lead supervisor)
  • Michéle Danjoux, Design in motion: Choreosonic Wearables in Performance. (Lead supervisor)
  • Johan Stjernholm, A synthesis of aesthetic embodied practices, dress, and cybernetics through western theatrical dance. (Lead supervisor)