Professor Caroline Evans
Professor of Fashion History and Theory
Twentieth century and contemporary fashion, art, photography and film. Modernism. Visual culture and its relation to the history of sensibilities and the body, gender and masquerade. Theories of vision and looking. The visualization of knowledge.
My earliest research was on gender, fashion and identity which I investigated in Women and Fashion: a New Look (1989, co-written with Minna Thornton). From the late 1990s I explored theoretical approaches to fashion derived from Benjamin, Simmel, Marx, Debord, Rabaté and Baudelaire in a series of articles culminating in Fashion at the Edge (2003). There I argued that contemporary fashion demanded a new analysis to explain the ways in which it was haunted by the ‘ghosts of modernity’. As an art historian working in an art school, I was interested in the intellectual and critical framing of fashion design, including the relationship of theory to practice and vice versa, and the importance of finding methodologies and voices with which to investigate these questions.
These concerns continue to inform my interest in how new technologies and designs change the ways in which people work, walk, talk, create and think. I have recently completed a book on the history of early fashion shows in Paris and New York c.1900-1929, The Mechanical Smile: Modernism and the First Fashion Shows in France and America 1900-1929, due from Yale University Press in spring 2013. Situating the fashion show in the context of modernism, it links the first fashion shows to the development of early cinema, as well as to Taylorism in the workplace and Fordist aesthetics in art and design, to show how modernist production was 'pictured' in fashion marketing. This research has led me to new sources, in particular film in the silent period, and new ways of thinking about theory itself as both historical and contingent. More recently it has provoked me to think about the history of the body, in particular how its ephemeral and intangible traces linger in fashionable ways of walking, moving and posing. Initially I wrote about fashion as part of material culture and design history; now I have also started to think of it as an embodied, spatial and temporal practice.
- The House of Viktor & Rolf, co-authored with Susannah Frankel, Merrell in association with Barbican Gallery, London, 2008.
- Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness, Yale University Press, London & New Haven,  paperback edition 2007.
- ‘No Man’s Land,’ in: Lois Weisenthal (ed), Toward a New Interior, Princeton Architectural Press, 2011 (reprinted from Hussein Chalayan, 2005)
- ‘The Walkies: early fashion shows and silent cinema,’ in: Adrienne Munich (ed), Fashion in Film: Essays in Honor of E.Ann Kaplan, Indiana University Press, 2011.
- ‘British Fashion’, in Michael Higgins, Clarissa Smith & John Storey (eds). The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- ‘The origins of the Modern Fashion Show’ in: Peter McNeil & Giorgio Riello (eds) History of Fashion Reader, Routledge, 2010.
- ‘A shop of images and signs’ in: Eugenie Schinkle (ed), Fashion as Photograph, I B Tauris, London, 2008.
- ‘The Economy of Desire’ in: Marketa Uhlirova (ed), If Looks Could Kill: Cinema’s Image of Fashion, Crime and Violence, Koenig Books, London, 2008.
- ‘The Ontology of the Fashion Model’, AA Files,(Architectural Association, London), issue 63, September 2011.
- ‘Invisible Ink’, with Hansjorg Schmidt, Blue Pages (Society of British Theatre Designers), vol.2, 2010.
- ‘’This Vertigo of Time Defeated’: Fashion Photography and Melancholy,’ Vestoj, issue no. 1, 2009, ‘Material memories.’
- ‘Jean Patou’s American Mannequins: Early Fashion Shows and Modernism’ in: Modernism/Modernity, vol.15, no.2, April 2008.
- 'Dressing Modern Frenchwomen: Marketing Haute Couture, 1919-1939’ by Mary Lynn Stewart, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2008, The American Historical Review, 2009.
- Surreal Things: V&A, Fashion Theory, special issue on Fashion Curation edited by Alistair o’Neill, Vol.12, issue 2, June 2008.
- Paper for CHORD workshop, University of Wolverhampton, 'Uniforms and Uniformity' 12 October 2011.
- ’The Catwalk,’ panel discussant, with Simon Costin (art director UK), Coralie Gaulthier (Yohji Yamamoto, France), Arnhem Mode Biennale, 30 June 2011.
- ‘Extreme relations: costume exhibited and contextualised’, panel discussant, Intersection, Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, June 16 - 26 2011.
- ‘Denise Poiret’s robe de minute’, Costume Society of America Annual Conference, Boston, 9-11 June 2011.
- 'Early fashion shows and the cinema of attractions,c.1900-1925', Graduate Centre at City University of New York, 2 May 2011.
- ‘Queens of the Catwalk: Fashion Models in the Modernist Period’, for ‘Fashionable Queens, Body-Power-Gender’ International Symposium, University of Vienna, 3-4 December 2010.
- ‘Mirrors, magic and multiplication: early twentieth century fashion shows’ (revised and updated version), Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, University of London, 22 November 2010. ‘Modelling Modernity: early fashion shows in France and America, c.1900-1929’, Centre for Fashion Studies Research Forum, University of Stockholm, 16 November 2010.
- Panel chair, Fashion Media: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, London College of Fashion, 21-22 October 2010.
- Three contributions at single conference: position paper for ‘Fashion's Vernaculars: A Roundtable’, conference paper on ‘Mirroring Modernity’; paper for discussion group on ‘Musical Modernisms’. Modernist Studies Conference, Montreal, Canada, 5-7 November 2009.
- Paper on mirrors for symposium ‘Monitoring Scenography: Space and Desire,’ Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, October 8th-10th 2009.
- ‘Jean Patou’s ‘Américanisme,’ Fashions: Business Practices in Historical Perspective, joint annual meeting of the Business History Conference (BHC) and European Business History Association (EBHA), Bocconi University, Milan, 11-13 June 2009.
- ‘Academic and other publishing on fashion,’ The Future of Fashion Studies: A Fashion Network, University of Warwick, 30 April 2009.
- ‘Mirrors, magic and multiplication: early twentieth century fashion shows’, Modernism and Visual Culture Conference, University of Oxford, St Anne’s College, 1-2 November 2008.
- ‘Fashion Thoughts’, Fourth Annual Center for British and Irish Studies Colloquium, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2-3 October 2008.
- ‘Chanel’s Apartment’, Magic and Fashion Symposium, ICA, London, 20 May 2008.
- ‘Visual History: theory and methodology’, Fashioning Gender Conference: Contexts and Approaches, University of Warwick, 10 May 2008.
- ‘A Shop of Images and Signs’, The Blurring of Boundaries/High Tension Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in Contemporary Media Conference, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 8-9 May 2008.
- ‘Name and a dress’, Great Designers Symposium, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 14-15 March 2008.
Twentieth century fashion history and theory.
Contemporary fashion and critical theory.
Visual culture and art history.
Theories of gender, identity and spectatorship.