Wearing the City: Fashion and clothing in the curation of urban history.
Royal Holloway, University of London
Supervisor: Professor David Gilbert
This project examines the use of clothing in the curation of urban history, particularly in the waythat history of London has been interpreted and displayed. City museums have long used costumeand clothing as a part of their displays. However, the relatively recent rise of material cultureapproaches has led to the relationship between clothing and histories of cities being rethought.Rather than just showing what people once wore in a particular city, the clothes of famousinhabitants, or the designs of the best-known fashion designers, these approaches open up newpossibilities, particularly for city museums. For example, surviving clothing can be strongly imbuedwith histories of identity, particularly of gender, race, sexuality and urban subcultures. Thefashions of designers can speak not just to their creative talents, but also to changing urbancontexts of production, consumption and fashion performance on the streets of the city. Theproject is distinctive having a research context that will allow study of this relationship in the past,but also in the development of future displays, notably in the creation of the new Museum ofLondon at West Smithfield. The student will have a base at the Museum of London, and as well asarchival work on its collections and their past display, will also have an opportunity to observe andbe an active participant in the development of new displays. A significant element of the projectwill also involve comparative analysis of approaches to clothing in other major city museums.