Happy New Year!


2014 was a fantastic year in the world of fashion history, here are some of my highlights…


These include publishing my first book; appearing on Great British Sewing Bee series 2, Woman’s Hour numerous times, BBC Breakfast again and also my debut appearance on Radio 4’s Saturday Review; featuring in Betty magazine, on MyDaily and in and Irish Times supplement The Gloss (more below); speaking at many, many events including the V&A, BFI, the British Library, and giving one of the Summer Edits tours at the Royal AcademyDJing at the launches of Selfridges’ Beauty Project, as well as featuring as a panel guest on feminism & beauty with Sali HughesDJing in Hong Kong and Moscow; giving a keynote speech at a Fashion for Action conference in Kiev, and finally gearing up for the launch of my next book Nautical Chic this coming March. Phew!


double coverThe cover!

After getting a bit of a break over the festive season I’m ready to smash straight into 2015 with a series of events on power, dress and culture that I’ve programmed as part of the Women, Fashion, Power exhibition at the Design Museum. This month come along to Faith, Fashion & Power in Muslim Dress, February sees Power, Dress & Spirituality in West Africa and in March you can hear me wax lyrical on Uniform, Power & the Sea. Do come along! More information on all events RIGHT HERE.

DESIGN MUSUEMDesigns by Barjis ChohanLorene Rhoomes will be speaking on West African textiles

Also the spring programme for my Theatre of Fashion lecture series at the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities is live! In January see Fabulous Fashionista and Selfridges ‘Bright Old Thing’ Sue Kreitzman with artist Diane Goldie on Wearable Art; Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson on tailoring for the 21st century in February; Charlotte and Philip Colbert (of The Rodnik Band) on Pop Art and fashion in March; and myself and art historian Dr Matt Lodder in April, discussing the nautical (but nice) obsessions of sailor style and tattoos. More information on the entire spring lecture series RIGHT HERE.

273ec70686e2d63cff7f310a32572c4a_f80Sue Kreitzman on Wearable Art on January 21st

In the interim, if the history of the sideshow, circus impresario PT Barnum and Orientalism feature in your interests, feel free to peruse a piece I wrote on Fashioning the Freak Show for Vestoj journal of sartorial matters. Read HERE.

vestojFashioning the Freak Show: Orientalism and the Circassian Beauty

And of course, stay posted for more on the launch of Nautical Chic later in the year!

10915177_804436642960388_3544901295612852123_nThames & Hudson spring catalogue


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Newsflash: Women, Fashion, Power at the Design Museum

Design Museum        Image from @violettaboxill

As the days get colder and festive adverts start tugging on our collective heartstrings, the burning question on everyone’s lips is, ‘forget Christmas, what do I have to look forward to in 2015?’ Well – dear reader – let me enlighten you, as I’ve been invited to guest-curate a series of events as part of the Women, Fashion, Power exhibition at the Design Museum. The series examines how women use dress to negotiate issues around power throughout history and across cultures, from Muslim dress and modest fashion to West African spirituality, and the use of uniforms in western fashion from the 18th century to the present day. Come along!

January 27th: Faith, Fashion & Power in Muslim Dress: Barjis Chohan in conversation with Professor Reina Lewis. The dress of Muslim women continues to spark debates surrounding oppression vs empowerment, but often the question of fashion is conspicuous by its absence. In this discussion, Professor Reina Lewis talks to Barjis Chohan, founder of luxury fashion brand Barjis that fuses Eastern cultural values with Western cut and prints, about issues concerning fashion and faith. Topics will include how Muslim women around the world are finding ways to dress that support and express their growing social power, women’s education and careers in the industry, and increasing trends across Judaism, Christianity and Islam for modest fashion that allows the wearer to cover their body to engage with both spiritual and stylish demands. More info & tickets here.

muslim dress                                                                              Barjis designs                                                                                        Professor Reina Lewis

23rd February: Power, Dress and Spirituality in West Africa – Lorene Rhoomes of Akhu Designs on the textiles and head wraps of the region. Head wraps are an essential part of African history and culture. In sub-Saharan Africa they were traditionally worn by women to prove they were prosperous and spiritual, and elaborate Nigerian gele and Ghanaian duku are worn today for celebrations, religious occasions or as an expression of cultural pride. Lorene Rhoomes, designer behind Akhu Designs, shares her passion for West African dress, looking at the vital role of textiles in the region and finishing with a head wrap workshop. A number of fabrics will be covered from the sacred Kente, dubbed the Akan Royal Cloth; Adire, resist-dyed indigo cloths that historically symbolised wealth and nobility among community chiefs, and Ankara, also known as Dutch Wax, which has a long and intricate history ranging from Indonesia to Holland, Manchester and West Africa, whose stories of colonialism and identity are often used in the artwork of Yinka Shonibare. More info & tickets here.

Akhu Designs  Lorene Rhoomes, aka Akhu Designs                                                                          Ankara fabric

23rd March: Uniform, Power and the Sea – Nautical motifs are a perennial on contemporary catwalks, from regimental naval glamour to the square sailor collar. But how did these elements of men’s uniform — created as a spectacular display of sartorial power and military might — cross into women’s dress, and how did their meanings change with this transition? I will discuss the complex relationship between uniform, war, power and fashion, from the development of naval uniform to its appropriation into womenswear, covering areas based on research from my latest book, Nautical Chic (2015): the history of high style on the high seas. More info & tickets here.

nautical1950s hand-knitted cardigan from the Mary Maxim ‘Pirate’ pattern Beyond Retro Archive; and la coéffure à la Belle-Poule, 1778,  from the Bibliothèque nationale de France

AND if that wasn’t enough, my Theatre of Fashion lecture series at the Museum of Curiosities continues in the new year with Wearable Art: In Conversation with Sue Kreitzman and Diane Goldie on January 21st.

Born in NYC almost 75 years ago, Sue Kreitzman has lived and worked in London ’s East End for 30 years. After a long career as a food writer and broadcaster she unexpectedly burst into art late in life. One of the stars of the Channel 4 documentary Fabulous Fashionistas, and – in the New Year – one of Selfridges Bright Old Things (where she will have a Selfridges window all to herself), she is well known for her vibrant sense of style, in which she doesn’t so much get dressed in the morning as curate herself. Diane Goldie is an artist who works in collaboration with Sue to create spectacular one-off pieces of wearable art. Her brand c.Art is a reaction to the ostracising of craft from the fine art world, and through the medium of painting, embroidering and appliquéing Diane aims to take art from the gallery walls and bring it to the street, transposed as unique fashion pieces.

We will be in conversation discussing Sue and Diane’s artistic collaboration, the links between fashion & art, their sense of personal style, and why ‘growing old gracefully’ is certainly not on the agenda. More info here.

273ec70686e2d63cff7f310a32572c4a_f80Sue Kreitzman

Hope to see you at some of these events in 2015!

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Newsflash: Fashion Series at the Viktor Wynd Museum

viktor-wynd a                                                           Alex Box                                                       Carry Somers                               Ian Kelly on Vivienne Westwood

As the autumn nights draw in and we bid farewell to the final rays of summer, you are cordially invited to join me at my Theatre of Fashion lecture series at Hackney’s newest museum, The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities. I’m excited to announce that I’m the Fashion Director of the museum (formerly the Little Shop of Horrors on Mare Street) which is part of The Last Tuesday Society.

The series kicks off this month, with me in conversation with visionary make-up artist Alex Box, covering areas concerning the role of alternative beauty ideals, her brand Illamasqua, and, in time for Halloween, “The Final Act of Self-Expression” – an initiative for post-mortem beauty run by Illamasqua make-up artists and funeral directors Leverton & Sons.

November update: Tansy Hoskins is no longer able to join us, so we’ll be welcoming Owen Espley from War on Want in her place

In November, join me for a night of Fashion Activism as Owen Espley and Carry Somers take to the stage to debate their approaches to changing the industry for the better. While fashion as a means of personal expression is celebrated, fashion as an industry comes under criticism for its materialism and unregulated outsourcing of manufacture. Owen Espley is the Senior Economic Justice Campaigner at War on Want, where he leads the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign on labour rights in fashion supply chains. Carry Somers is the founder of Fashion Revolution Day which promotes transparency and accountability in fashion production, sparked by the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. She is also creative director of fair trade luxury millinery brand Pachacuti.

In December, Ian Kelly – author of books on Beau Brummell and Casanova among others – will be joining us to discuss his latest venture: the memoir of Dame Vivienne Westwood, which he co-authored. In this illustrated lecture the authorised life-story of the Grande Dame of British fashion is told for the first time by her biographer.

I’m afraid that Alex Box is already SOLD OUT, however you can get tickets for Fashion Activism with Carry Somers & Owen Espley (November 12th) HERE, and Ian Kelly on Vivienne Westwood (December 4th) HERE. The Last Tuesday Society has put on almost 500 lectures and salons over the last ten years so it’s really exciting to add a Theatre of Fashion series to the roster. More information on all the talks right here.


And if that wasn’t enough, you can also find me at Cultures of the Dark Side: A Day of Gothic Music and Fashion, a day of talks, discussions and performances in celebration of alternative style and music as part of the current exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination at the British Library. I will be chairing the discussion The New Black: From Subculture to High Culture looking at the influence of the gothic on fashion design, joined by designers, trend specialists and academics.

Terror and Wonder is the UK’s biggest ever Gothic exhibition and it showcases a huge range of material from medieval chivalric romances to Hammer Horror and Alexander McQueen. It’s an absolute must for fans of the genre and is perfect for Halloween season.

Cultures of the Dark Side: A Day of Gothic Music and Fashion at the British Library, Sunday 9th November. More information and tickets here and here.

gothic 1                                                                                                                                       My gothic look for the exhibition launch

In other news…

I spoke to BBC News magazine about heritage in fashion, in a piece on the history of Barbour. Read it here. I was also asked about the history of the trench coat and the links between military uniform and fashion. Read it right here.

I was invited onto Radio 4’s Today programme to chat cravats with Nicholas Parsons. How could I refuse?! Listen again here.

And I was back on Woman’s Hour, this time discussing sumptuary laws and fashion police. You can hear it here.

woman's hourSuitably cravated on the Today show; at Broadcasting House for Woman’s Hour with Giulia Galastro and Nicole Farhi

And finally I was on another SHOWstudio panel, discussing the Dior collection for spring/summer 2015. You can watch the whole thing here.

FullSizeRenderDior discussion at SHOWstudio


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Newsflash: 10 Outfits that Changed the World

Ever wondered about the most significant styles of the last few centuries? If the answer is ‘yes,’ I have a date for your diary: join me on Monday September 8th to hear about 10 Outfits that Changed the World at BrainCandy social club in Notting Hill, upstairs at The Oak on Westbourne Park Road. From Chanel to Marie Antoinette, and from Spitalfields silks to Versace, I’ll be taking you on a guided tour of some of the most influential outfits in the history of fashion. And it’s FREE! Tickets available here.

83_531_vaSpitalfields silk dress, 1752, found at Spitalfields Life

 In other news…

I wrote about the history of STRIPES & THE SEA for the lovely Tilly of Tilly & the Buttons,  so if Breton tops are your thing or you have a fascination with Nelson (spoiler alert: his stockings appear), then you can check it out HERE.

I was also interviewed about style and historical fashion for Beyond Retro, My Roots My Style, and Inside the Archive, and My Daily took a peek inside my wardrobe.

AJWearing Wooden Hills Bedding kimono and Akhu Designs turban for My Daily; wearing Beyond Retro 1970s jumpsuit, Terry de Havilland shoes and Akhu Designs Showstopper turban at My Roots, My Style and Inside the Archive – picture by Lorna Milburn

I’ve been spending the summer talking about a number of areas, from Fashion and the First World War (for LIFT Festival at Battersea Arts Centre) to midcentury Soviet fashion during the Cold War for the Gallery of Russian Art and Design (watch again HERE). I was also on the SHOWstudio live panel discussing the Schiaparelli collection during Couture Week which you can see HERE. The Team Scotland parade uniforms for the Commonwealth Games caused quite a stir, and I was duly asked to speak about the history and enduring appeal of tartan for BBC Breakfast and Woman’s Hour (listen here).

I also filmed a short piece for the next series of BBC 2’s Great British Sewing Bee (which you’ll have to wait until 2015 to see), and I was a guest on Radio 4’s Saturday Review along with Kate Williams and Paul Morley, discussing Malevich at the Tate Modern, Oscar Wilde in the theatre and a Filipino retelling of Crime & Punishment. You can listen again HERE.

grad liftMy homage to Russian Constructivist textiles to discuss Soviet fashion at the Gallery for Russian Art and Design, and to the Land Girls to discuss fashion & war at LIFT Festival
sewing bee Filming in a zip factory for series 3 of Great British Sewing Bee; wearing The Rodnik Band‘s fried eggs on BBC Breakfast
photoDiscussing the Schiaparelli couture collection for SHOWstudio with Judith Watt, James Sherwood and Lou Stoppard

And finally my Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition Edits Tour is online! I was asked to select 5 pieces in the Summer Exhibition to discuss, and the artworks I featured tended to focus (unsurprisingly) on textiles and history. It was great fun to do, and you can read about the pieces I chose, and listen to the tour right HERE.

royal academyA print featuring hieroglyphics seemed the obvious choice to discuss textiles and history in art

Until next time!

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Newsflash: Royal Academy tour, Soviet Fashion, Book Signing & More!

Picture 40

Join me on Wednesday 26th June at 3pm for my Summer Edits tour of the Royal Academy Summer Show. The Summer Exhibition Edits are a series of afternoon tours in which practitioners from diverse fields share their personal highlights of the show. I’ve selected five works from the exhibition to chat about – come along to hear which they are! Others on the bill include the BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz.

And it’s FREE! More info HERE.


If you can’t make that, on Wednesday 23rd July I’ll be talking about midcentury Soviet fashion at the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design. The talk is part of their programme to accompany the Work and Play Behind the Iron Curtain exhibition which examines the changing face of Soviet design from the 1917 Revolution to Perestroika. This is an area I’m really interested in so I can’t wait to start my research.

More info if you scroll down HERE and get your tickets HERE.

Picture 38

Following that, on Thursday July 24th I’ll be giving a talk and book signing at the Fashion & Textile Museum. I’ll be sharing insight into some of the secrets of fashion’s past, from high heels to haute couture, as well as talking about the process for writing a book on fashion history. Come along! You can check out the brilliant Made in Mexico exhibition while you’re there.

More info and tickets HERE!


In other news… There’s an interview with me in the current issue of Betty magazine


…It was fantastic to be a part of the Selfridges Beauty Project events, here I am discussing beauty & feminism with Sali Hughes and novelist Emma Jane Unsworth

beauty project

…And I was photographed for My Daily in my favourite vintage outfits – seen here in a Victorian bodice (read more about it here), Akhu designs turban and Terry de Havilland shoes. Stay tuned as the full shoot will be online shortly.

I was also shot for photographer Jenny Lewis’s ‘Hackney Studio’ project (my living room has been getting a LOT of exposure lately).

Jenny Lewis

I’m in very good company, as the project also features Marawa, Fred Butler, Rob Flowers and Rosy Nicholas among many others.

Finally in SUPER EXCITING news, my Nautical Chic book will be published in America next year through Abrams Books. They have a REALLY INCREDIBLE fashion list and I’m overjoyed that my book will be joining their roster. So come next spring it will be available through Thames & Hudson here in the UK and through Abrams in the States. Current mood:



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Newsflash: Shakespeare at the V&A, Gaultier at the Barbican and MORE


Picture 41I’m excited to announce that my next ‘In Conversation’ at the V&A will be part of the Shakespeare Festival that celebrates the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth

I will be joined by Katrina Lindsay, an award winning theatre designer who has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre (among many others), and her sister Fiona, a founder member of the RSC‘s education department. We’ll be covering many issues around Tudor and Stuart clothing for the stage, such as the role of character, the way the past can be used to inspire the present, and subversion of historical costume for contemporary relevance. There are loads of great events going on throughout the festival, including food in Shakespeare’s time and the roles of black actors in Shakespeare so get involved!

  • Shakespeare Festival: In Conversation with Katrina & Fiona Lindsay
  • Friday 2nd May, 20:00
  • Seminar Room One, Sackler Centre, V&A
  • Get your FREE tickets HERE!

In other news…

JPGI was asked to share my nautical pearls of wisdom with the Barbican for the app to accompany their recently opened Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. There’s a load of information including insights from the curators, and it’s totally free. Get it right HERE!

Picture 38

And speaking of stripes and the sea, you can hear me talk about the history of the Breton stripe with Melanie Rickey and Jenni Murray on the Woman’s Hour fashion special. It also features Celia Birtwell and Grayson & Philippa Perry so it’s well worth a listen

Picture 39

I’m excited to be involved in some of the events for the upcoming Selfridges Beauty Project. The programme covers a whole host of areas from fashion, beauty and old age to the politics of black hair. We DJed at the launch events in London, Birmingham and Manchester and I will be heading back to Manchester on June 4th to speak on a panel with beauty editor Sali Hughes and novelist Emma Jane Unsworth about the pursuit of beauty. ‘The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful’ will examine the history, rituals and effects of beauty to ask whether it is a force for good, and what role appearances have to play in modern feminism. Get your tickets HERE!  

Picture 42

BH SelfridgesDJing at Selfridges in Manchester

I was very honored to be featured as the first Excellent Woman for Katie Antoniou‘s Domestic Sluttery column. Read it HERE.

And there’s also an interview with me in the forthcoming issue of Betty Magazine, out on 29th May, so do keep an eye out for it.


One of my top recommendations for the coming weeks… The UK premiere of the Advanced Style film is MAY 6THGET YOUR TICKETS HERE! I have been waiting to see this film for soooo long. Join me there!

Advanced Style

Chris and I had a fantastic time at our Puttin’ on the Glitz event at the British Library. You can read all about it at Clothes on Film.

GlitzPictures by Luca Sage
photo (5)Thanks to Faye for the picture

Finally, if you’re Stateside my Fashion Miscellany is now available in America. In fact, here it is on sale in the MoMA bookshop no less.

That’s All Folks!


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Newsflash: Puttin’ on the Glitz at the British Library

BL Spring

I’m excited to announce that I will be teaming up with the brilliant Chris Laverty of Clothes on Film for a night of fashion and film as part of the Spring Festival at the British Library.

I shall be exploring fashion on the big screen during the 1920s and 30s, from Joan Crawford and Ginger Rogers to the costume designers who became celebrities in their own right. If you’re lucky I might even venture pre-1920s, as who doesn’t love a bit of Gloria Swanson and Cecil B. DeMille? It’s worth it for the headdresses alone.

Chris, who has just been labelled a ‘digital game changer’ by none other than Vogue India, will be discussing the history of the ‘dandy gangster,’ with exclusive access to the costumes in award-winning HBO series Boardwalk Empire and the influence these colourful men still have on fashion today. SOUNDS PRETTY GOOD, RIGHT?!

The whole shebang will be followed by a party hosted by The Vintage Mafia and you can even enjoy a complimentary cocktail courtesy of The Eccles Centre for American Studies.

The ultimate 3 F’s – Fashion, Film and Free booze. What’s not to love?

Puttin’ on the Glitz: Fashion & Film in the Jazz Age is at the British Library on Friday 28th March from 18.30. BOOK NOW! And read more about the British Library’s Spring Festival, including talks by Hanif Kureishi and history storytelling workshops right here.

Picture 29web

IN OTHER NEWS… You may have caught me recently chatting to Claudia Winkleman about 17th century silk weavers on BBC2’s Great British Sewing Bee. If you missed it, you can catch it until April on iPlayer (UK only) from 45 minutes in.


I also joined the lovely Gemma Cairney on her Radio 1 show to chat all things vintage style (such as TURBANS) and why I definitely wasn’t born in the wrong era.

Sticking with style analysis, I was on the live SHOWstudio panel for the Prada collection during Milan Fashion Week. Watch here to see us chat politics and ‘ugliness’ in fashion, as well as training as a mime (Miuccia not me, unfortch).


On top of all that, I was recently interviewed about fashion theory by Bel Jacobs, and about all things historical at History Vault. And I shared my thoughts on the enduring appeal of Nautical Style for the Metro. And speaking of Nautical Style, I am still currently engrossed in writing a book that tracks the origins of our favourite nautical trends. And speaking of BOOKS, in exciting news my Fashion Miscellany has nearly sold out and is going to reprint!

The TImes

I’m pleased to say it made The Times ‘five best style titles for spring’, as well as The Observer’s Top 5 picks. There have also been lovely words from Clothes on FilmTilly and the ButtonsNaomi ThompsonThe Twin Magazine blog by the girls at Pamflet and The Invisible Woman at the Guardian.

Fashion Miscellany is still available via the GuardianAmazon, and all good book shops. GET ONE WHILE STOCKS LAST!

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