BBC 4: A Stitch In Time


I hope you had a joyous start to 2018! I have some very exciting news, as my BBC Four series, A Stitch in Time starts airing tomorrow, Wednesday January 3rd at 8.30pm.

Stitch iPlayer

Fusing biography, art and the history of fashion, throughout A Stitch in Time I get to explore the lives of historical figures through the clothes they wore, while key garments are recreated using the original techniques by historical tailor Ninya Mikhaila and her team. Tomorrow we begin with a look at the Restoration king, Charles II, and how he used fashion as propaganda with an outfit that foreshadowed the three piece suit.

Over the coming 6 weeks I’ll be investigating the the costume clues held within Van Eyck’s mysterious Arnolfini portrait, the role of hand-me-downs among 18th century workers, the impact of cotton on British life, a flamboyant armorial piece which sits at odds with the allegedly brutal nature of its wearer and the impact a scandalously informal gown would have on an already unpopular queen.

I’m delighted to say it’s been selected as Pick of the Day in the Guardian, featured in the Critics’ Choice section of the Sunday Times, one of the Highlights in the TV Times, and one of the Radio Times’ Choices.


There are already some clips online for episode one, click on the image below to see me examine the wedding suit of James II from 1673, with Susan North from the V&A.

Stitch Clip

Here’s a taster of what you can expect over the next 6 weeks!

stitch filming

Please do tune in! Or catch up later on iPlayer.

IN OTHER NEWS… My latest book, Fashion Illustration in Britain: Society and the Seasons for the British Library was released in October! It was fantastic spending some serious time in the British Library archives, going through previously unpublished periodicals and magazines from the 18th century to the 1930s. The book charts the history of fashion and the social calendar in Britain through the fashion plates of some of the most important publications, offering a record of fashion illustration in Britain that spans across three centuries. For a peek inside, head over to my Instagram.

BL book

Get hold of a copy at all good bookshops, including Foyles (above), online, and of course at the British Library shop.

Also, a reminder that my Radio 4 documentary, From Rags to Riches, is still available to listen online through BBC iPlayer, and to download through the Seriously podcastEpisode 1 looks at the transition of old clothes from second-hand to ‘vintage’, and how our attitude to used clothing has changed over a century and more. It features a wealth of contributors from Vogue’s thrifting connoisseur Bay Garnett to fashion auction pioneer Kerry Taylor and even my mum. Episode 2 looks at the global ramifications of our cast-off clothes. It took me from charity shops to sorting warehouses in Leeds and the markets and tailors of Dakar, Senegal.

Rags to Riches

For more regular updates you can keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter, and if you’re interested in learning more about fashion history, I’m teaching my short course again at London College of Fashion. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s, and it’s running in February and August. BOOKING and info HERE.

Until next time!


Radio 4: From Rags to Riches

Rags Riches

The first part of my two-part documentary for BBC Radio 4, From Rags to Riches, airs this Thursday at 11.30am!

As you can see above, Episode 1 looks at the transition from second-hand to ‘vintage’, and how our attitude to used clothing has changed over a century and more. It features a wealth of contributors from Vogue’s thrifting connoisseur Bay Garnett to fashion auction pioneer Kerry Taylor and even my mum.

Rags 1With Vogue contributing fashion editor Bay Garnett; designer Lloyd Johnson; Managing Director of Beyond Retro, Kate Peters

Episode 2 airs on Thursday 11th May at 11.30am, and looks at the global ramifications of our cast-off clothes. It took me from charity shops to sorting warehouses in Leeds and the markets and tailors of Dakar, Senegal.

I would love you to listen to it, you can keep an ear out for it RIGHT HERE!

Rags 2With designer and former model Sadiya Gueye who set up a fashion school in Dakar, at Oxfam Wastesaver, and with tailor Ousmane Diouf


I WROTE for The Pool about our (my) enduring love affair with leopard print and the most unlikely cinematic icons that have influenced the way we dress, from Divine to Little Edie.

I spent a WHOLE WEEK on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, discussing the history behind some of our fashion staples, from the white shirt and the Little Black Dress, to trainers, the trench coat and jeans. You can catch them all here.

womans hourChatting trench coats with fashion features director at the Telegraph Kate Finnigan, and discussing the history of the shirt with Pandora Sykes

I made an appearance in Channel 4’s recent documentary, Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime which tells the story of Monroe’s life through some of her most personal and glamorous possessions. You can watch it here if you’re quick!

My next book, Fashion Illustration in Britain: Society and the Seasons for the British Library is out in October. It’s been a pleasure to delve into the extensive archives at the British Library, and it will be packed full of gorgeous images from the 18th century through to the 1930s. More info to follow so watch this space…

ch 4 BL bookMarilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime; British Library publishing catalogue

I contributed my Top 5 Museums and Galleries to Fred Butler’s excellent guide to London, It’s A London Thing. It also features top tips from hoola hooper extraordinaire (and one of my favourite people) Marawa the Amazing, nightlife queen Princess Julia and designer Zandra Rhodes so it’s definitely not to be missed! It’s available here.


I was featured in the excellent Oh Comely magazine, posing around some of my favourite Margate landmarks… (for other recent press, head over here).

Oh Comely.jpg


I’m currently filming a WHOLE TV SERIES for my favourite channel, BBC4, about what clothes can teach us about history. Some filming highlights so far are below, and keep posted for more info coming soon!

stitchWith Toby Capwell, Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection; with historical costumier Ninya Mikhaila, AKA The Tudor Tailor; hamming it up at Ham House

For more regular updates you can keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter, and you can catch me IRL speaking about countercultural fashion at London Art Salon on 9th May, and about the history of embroidery as communication, from naval officers to subversive female stitchers at the Hand and Lock conference on 13th July.

And if you’re interested in learning more about fashion history, I’m teaching my short course again this summer at London College of Fashion. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s, and it’s running in July and August. BOOKING and info HERE.

Until next time, over and out!


Newsflash: Fashion History from Versailles to the Silver Screen

Newsflash: Fashion History from Versailles to the Silver Screen

*trumpet fanfare*

My latest book, The Fashion of Film: How Cinema Inspired Fashion is out THIS THURSDAY! Luckily my publisher indulged my love of dressing like Charlie Chaplin and Carmen Miranda and helped me make a short video to explain a bit more about it…

The Fashion of Film is available to order online from Foyles here, and hard copies have already been spotted in Hatchards and FoylesAnd if you’d like to hear more in the flesh, I’ll be speaking about it at the Fashion and Textile Museum on 29th September at 6pm. More info and tickets HERE! There will be other events coming up, including at Beyond Retro and Soho Farmhouse so watch this space! 


There is still just about time to catch me on Inside Versailles – the show that unpacks history from fiction following the Canal+ series Versailles about Louis XIV that aired on BBC 2 over the summer. Along with historians Greg Jenner and Kate Williams, I investigate the fashion at the 17th century court at Versailles. Watch it HERE


I wrote about history, fashion and film and the relationship between all three for the Financial Times, out this past weekend. If you have a subscription you can read it here.  

I was on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing the ‘burkini ban’ in France alongside journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, and discussing the appointment of Dior’s first ever female creative director. Click on the links to listen again. I also discussed the life and amazing legacy of Sonia Rykiel for Radio 4’s Last Word.

FT DiorFT Weekend; dressed in my 1940s finest to discuss Dior on Woman’s Hour

I was lucky enough to chat about my new book with Gemma Cairney on the Radio 2 Arts Show, and Jo Good on Radio London. Feel free to listen again for the insider lowdown!

Radio 2 Radio LondonOn the Jo Good show; Gemma Cairney on Radio 2

Canadian friends! The series I filmed earlier this summer is AIRING NOW! Style Factory is airing on Slice TV and you can catch me giving the historical backstory to the featured items. 

I also travelled to Dakar in Senegal for the BBC Radio 4/World Service documentary I’m making on secondhand clothes. I had the most amazing time. More info to follow shortly so stay tuned, and you can keep up with my travels over at Instagram.

Style Factory DakarFilming Style Factory; Recording at BBC Dakar

Until next time, I hope you enjoy THE FASHION OF FILM!

Fashion of Film

The Fashion of Film

The Fashion of Film

I’m very happy to share the cover of my latest book, The Fashion of Film: How Cinema Inspired Fashion! Yes, that is indeed Jane Fonda reclining in characteristic cinematic style. Spanning over 100 years, 45 films and seven genres, The Fashion of Film looks at the close relationship between the history of cinema and the history of style, from the silver screen to the catwalk. I got to write about some of my favourite movie moments from Josephine Baker to Carmen Miranda, from early Westerns to German Expressionism and from Wong Kar Wai to John Waters.

book 1

Crime: Dressed to Kill investigates the darker side of human nature that has provided us with style-obsessed archetypes, from the noir detective to the femme fatale. The Musical: Spectacular Fashion looks at the lavish excess of this mid-century favourite and how it continues to inspire designers, while Historical Epic: Dressed to Excess shows that the distant past still has the power to inspire the future, especially when mediated through the glamour of the film lens. Horror: Supernatural Chic centres on the aesthetics of the paranormal, and how blood and monsters can provide unlikely inspiration for dress. Romantic Drama: Seductive Style concentrates on the role of love and heartbreak in adorning the body, while Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Bionic Bodies explores how our obsession with the future, or alternative realities, can shape the styles of the present. Finally Art House & Independent: Style with Substance focuses on films that are made outside the mainstream, shaped by an auteur, whose particular vision can provide rich pickings for the world of style.

The Fashion of Film is out on September 8th and is available to pre-order right now!

book 2

And in very fitting news (as I conducted a lot of my book research at the British Film Institute library), on August 6th you can find me hosting a discussion at the BFI about Punk visual style and culture with writer Paul Gorman, and Jordan Mooney who worked as a sales assistant at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shops at 430 King’s Road in the 1970s. The event is part of DJ/filmmaker Don Letts’ forthcoming Punk On Film season, and will be held after a screening of Julien Temple’s 2000 Sex Pistols documentary The Filth & The Fury. For more details, see Paul Gorman’s blog – and buy your tickets here!

jubilee-02.jpgJordan Mooney in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee


I’ve had a busy few weeks which has included filming in Toronto and speaking in Moscow, as well as cracking on with my Radio 4 documentary. On top of that, you may have seen me on the latest series of BBC 2’s Great British Sewing Bee speaking about West African batik prints, and ski wear. If you’re quick, you can still catch them on BBC iPlayer here & here.

Sewing BeeBBC 2’s Great British Sewing Bee

I also featured in Lucy Worsley’s latest documentary on BBC 4, chatting about French and English fashions of the 18th century. You can catch it on BBC iPlayer here.

MozartBBC 4’s Lucy Worsley: Mozart’s London Odyssey

I took a brief filming trip to Toronto to feature in Cineflix Productions’ new show Style Factory that will air in Canada this autumn…

Style Factory Guardian vintageFilming for Style Factory in Toronto; interviewing Kerry Taylor for BBC Radio 4

… and following that I popped to Moscow to speak about Shakespeare’s influence on contemporary fashion for the Midsummer Nights Festival, part of Shakespeare Lives: the British Council’s global celebration of Shakespeare’s life and work to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.

MoscowMidsummer Nights Festival at the Muzeon Art Park, Moscow. Pictures by Darya Nikitina

Continuing the theme of men in tights, I was very excited to be asked to speak at Selfridges ‘Shakespeare ReFASHIONed’ launch. Following the 5×15 format, five speakers were given 15 minutes to talk about their area of expertise. And when the experts included Simon Callow, Zandra Rhodes, perfumer Roja Dove and poet James Massiah then it’s pretty good company to keep.

selfridges5×15 Talks for Selfridges’ Shakespeare reFASHIONed launch

I also talked to The Guardian about the rise and rise of vintage clothing, and I spoke to The Telegraph for the 70th birthday of the modern bikini – read more here and here.

Guardian vintage.jpgThe Guardian on the rise of vintage clothing

For more regular updates, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for all your social media needs.

The Fashion of Film is OUT ON SEPTEMBER 8th! More news on related events coming up shortly. Until next time! x





Picture by Katie Gouw

Hello hello! It’s been a while. I’ve been in deep hibernation writing my next book, which I’m excited to announce is OUT IN SEPTEMBER! More to follow on that imminently, so do keep posted. But that’s not all I’ve been up to over the past few months…

Among other radio bits n’ pieces, I discussed trousers, trends and emancipation with Liberty London Girl on Woman’s Hour, chatted crocodile style for Radio 4’s Natural Histories and suggested to John Humphrys that he give high heels a go on the Today programme. I also had my debut podcasting for The Pool in a discussion on what our underwear means to us. I wrote a brief history of the leather jacket in rock ‘n roll for Noisey and I spoke to The Guardian about Beyonce, bodycon and beauty standards.

tilly and the buttons

I got to wear an entire wardrobe’s worth of clothes made by the lovely Tilly and the Buttons! I got to try out her new Orla pattern as well as an update of her classic Coco design – and for budding home-sewers you can get copies of the gorgeous patterns HERE.

to pdf finished.indd

to pdf finished.indd

I got to give good face (and dust off my Carmen Miranda impression) for Caboodle magazine. Follow them on Instagram, and the print version is available here.

IWM North.jpg

I was super excited to open the Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style exhibition at Imperial War Museum North. I loved being involved in the show in a small way when it was in London (I feature in the video at the end), and it was a real honour to open the exhibition on its Manchester leg. Go see!

Radio 4 British Library

I’ve also been around the country recording for my radio documentary that will air on Radio 4 and the World Service later this year. Here I am enjoying some hi-vis action at Oxfam Wastesaver clothes sorting plant. And I’ve also started work on my NEXT book! My fourth book in four years will be a history of British fashion illustration for the British Library – combining my two favourite things: books and clothes!

More details on both of these in the not-too-distant future, but for now you can catch me at the National Maritime Museum on 16th June where I’m chatting sailor style as part of Curators On The Gangplank at their A Sailor’s Life for Me late event, and I’ll be speaking on Shakespeare and fashion in Moscow on 26th June for the British Council’s Midsummer Night Festival, as part of the wider Shakespeare Lives celebrations. Exciting times ahead!

For more regular updates you can keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter. But for now, over and out!


Curious Cosmetics: An Immersive History & other stories

Curious Cosmetics: An Immersive History & other stories

With the bank holiday a total wash out, there’s no better way to embrace the coming of autumn than by booking yourself into my LAST EVER event at the Museum of Curiosities on 15th September. And I am going out with a bang, as you are all invited to an immersive history into Sex, Scent and Curious CosmeticsOdette Toilette is a lifelong fragrance fan who has been changing the way we think about scent through her cult events, ranging from sniffable history talks to perfumed tours of art galleries. In advance of her first book, A Century of Scents in 100 Perfumes, (Hutchinson, October 2015), Odette will invite you to experience the 20th century in perfume form. Discover the strange tales of maverick entrepreneurs ‘scent bombing’ American cities in the 1940s, and Edwardian actresses using perfume to gear up for their salacious roles on the stage. Julian Walker is a writer and artist who leads workshops at the British Library. His talk, A View of the History of Cosmetics, is drawn from research for his book, The Finishing Touch: Cosmetics Through The Ages – a curious, sometimes uncomfortable history of the human need to look beautiful. Among the bizarre recipes and grotesque commercial innovations featured are a facewash based on boiled and minced pigeons and ways to prevent mice-infestation in wigs. 15th September at 6.30pm.

Signed copies of Julian Walker’s The Finishing Touch & How to Cure the Plague (British Library) will be on sale. Get your TICKETS HERE!

Curious CosmeticsOdette Toilette, Julian Walker’s The Finishing Touch

nautical 1

In nautical-but-nice news, I am continuing to do the sartorial hornpipe around the country. Join me on 22nd September at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth where I’ll be looking at the relationship between maritime dress and the fashionable wardrobe, and tracing the evolution of the style back to its roots in our seafaring past. There will also be a chance to preview rare uniforms from the Museum collection, and it is part of a number of fashion events the museum is putting on, so get your sailor style ready! TICKETS and INFO here.

On 26th September I’ll be getting uncharacteristically outdoorsy for Pioneer Festival at the Hackney Picturehouse. The festival will be looking at everything from the sartorial excellence of Everest climbers to So-Cal skaters, and taking in iconic adventurers, sea shanties and wildmen in between with a series of films, talks and events inspired by the epic outdoors. Join me for a visual tour of Nautical Chic where I’ll be exploring why the high seas remain our most enduring sartorial inspiration. Tickets HERE.

And in a break from all things nautical, on 17th September I’ll be discussing the Story of Haute Couture for London Art Studies, from the Sun King in the early 18th century to the ‘Golden Age’ of postwar couture. Tickets here!

On bank holiday Monday I was part of a special edition of Women’s Hour with Men’s Hour on Radio 4 & 5Live investigating appearance and body image. Other guests were broadcaster Caryn Franklin, casting director Jody Furlong, academic Philippa Dietrich and Glen Jankowski who is completing a PhD on male body image. We discussed everything from the effect of social media on self-esteem to Henry VIII’s calves. You can listen again here.

Woman's Hour Lou TaylorAt Broadcasting House with Tim Samuels, Jody Furlong, Caryn Franklin and Jane Garvey. Paperdoll created by Lou Taylor

The fantastic jeweller, illustrator and paper artist Lou Taylor has recreated some of my wardrobe in paper! Pieces from Beyond Retro, the Rodnik Band and Terry de Havilland have been rendered in eye-popping paper cutouts. See more about it here and check out her fantastic jewellery, scarves and other exciting pieces (including her Carmen Miranda brooch!) here.

Blitz 1

I also spoke about 1940s wartime fashions on Dancing Through the Blitz: Blackpool’s Big Band Story presented by Lucy Worsley, Len Goodman and Jools Holland. Blackpool was one of the few resorts that remained open during the war, and it’s also one of my favourite places so it was great being involved in a show that examined the social history behind the resort and the music that kept the nation’s spirits up through the Second World War. It’s still available to watch here for a few more days.

I’ve been enjoying the BBC Radio 4 Natural Histories series very much so was excited when they asked me to talk about crocodile leather and all things croco-style for their upcoming Crocodiles episode. It will air on the 29th September, and keep posted here for more info. 


Snappy dressers: satirical fashion print mocking the fashions that followed Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 (National Maritime Museum); Holzer ad from 1946

In other news, Nautical Chic has been making waves this summer as far afield as San Francisco, Italy, Vogue Netherlands and China…

nautical press

In China’s Modern Weekly by Harriet Quick; Italian Fashion IllustratedVogue Netherlands

And if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching my short course again at London College of Fashion. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s. And you also get a copy of my first book! It’s running Saturdays and Sundays from 7th – 15th November. BOOKING and info HERE.

Finally, I may be a bit quiet for the next few months as I’m working on an exciting new project on film & fashion for next year. More info to come, but for now it’s time to celebrate like Auntie Mame! Until next time!


Shoes, Summer and Riviera Style

Shoes, Summer and Riviera Style

When the weather hits scorchio degrees, why not cool off with an evening all about the power of SHOES? This Tuesday at 6.30pm, it’s all about Shoes: From Sport to Sex at the Museum of Curiosities in Hackney. Helen Persson is the curator of the V&A’s summer exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain. The V&A’s shoe collection is unrivalled, spanning the globe and over 2000 years. For the exhibition, Helen has selected a range of shoes from a sandal decorated in pure gold leaf originating in ancient Egypt to futuristic looking shoes created using 3D printing. She will be discussing these displays that explore our obsession with shoes and their cultural importance as identifiers of status, privilege, seduction and sexual preference. Dr Thomas Turner is a historian at London College of Fashion. He’s been fascinated by trainers since getting his first pair of adidas in 1985 and his research examines the history of sports shoes and their links to technology and popular culture. In this talk, Thomas will consider the ancestor of the modern trainer: the Victorian lawn tennis shoe. He will explore how tennis shoes fit into a wider Victorian world of goods and leisure, and consider what this new type of footwear meant to the young men and women who wore them. THIS TUESDAY! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!

shoesWe DJed at the opening of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the V&A. These 1920s men’s shoes are currently on display at the exhibition


For more nautical-but-nice summer activities, head to the Fashion & Textile Museum on Thursday 16th July to hear me talking about the influence of maritime history and clothing on our wardrobe. I’ll be chatting about tailored uniform and sailor suits from the ship to the catwalk, as well as looking at the sailor as a gay icon and the first use of camouflage in fashion. I’ll be tracking nautical trends that we know and love back to their roots in our seafaring past, so come along to hear more! Info and tickets here.

While you’re at the museum, you can also check out my Nautical Chic display, which is part of the Riviera Style show. The exhibition is attracting record numbers of visitors, and as such has just been extended due to popular demand!

breton poolThe history of the Breton at The Pool; Nautical Chic on sale at the Fashion & Textile Museum

Speaking of all things nautical, I wrote about the history and enduring appeal of the striped Breton top for the fantastic site The Pool. From French fisherman to the catwalks of Paris, via the avant-garde world of the 1920s riviera, this item is a favourite for many people. You can find out why Justine Picardie swears by it, and why stripes used to be known as the Devil’s cloth. Check it out here.

And continuing with the seafaring theme, I recently recorded a feature on the perennial appeal of nautical styles for Radio 4’s ‘You & Yours’. We travel from maritime Greenwich to a yacht-chandler in Covent Garden & beyond, and you can listen again here.

you and yoursRecording for Radio 4

In other news… The BBC asked me about bowler hats, in a piece to commemorate the favourite headwear of the late Patrick Macnee, AKA John Steed in The Avengers. You can read it here. They also asked me about the enduring popularity of nautical styles for royal children, a tradition which Prince George is continuing. Here it is.

bbcJohn Steed in his trusty bowler from the BBC; Princess Mary, Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII, and Prince Albert as children from the BBC

I was excited when I was asked to be a guest on the brilliant Londonist podcast! Listen here to hear me chat about some of London’s fashionable quarters, such as Savile Row and the East End, and where to find out more about dress and history across London.

I also reviewed Women in Clothes: Why We Wear What We Wear for Review 31. Click here to read about the power of dress to communicate and work as a language that can illuminate identity, and how successful (or not) the book was at conveying this.


Finally, if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching some short courses at London College of Fashion. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s. And you also get a copy of my first book! It’s running from Tuesday 28th – Friday 31st July, Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th September and Saturdays and Sundays from 7th – 15th November. BOOKING and info HERE.

Events in June!

Events in June!

This month, join me for a night of politics and fashion at the Museum of Curiosities in Hackney on June 16th at 6.30pm. Fashion is often dismissed as superficial and ephemeral, but we’ll be looking at the economics and politics behind the glamour with author and campaigner Tansy Hoskins, and Terry Charman, historian of Fashion on the Ration at the Imperial War Museum.

Tansy Hoskins’ book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion was published in 2014 to great acclaim, winning the ICA Bookshop’s Book of the Year and is currently shortlisted for the 2015 Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing. Tansy will be moving from Karl Lagerfeld to Karl Marx, delving into the alluring world of fashion to explore consumerism, class, and garment factories to reveal the real beneficiaries of exploitation. The Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the Imperial War Museum London shows that fashion not only survived but also flourished during wartime. Imperial War Museum historian Terry Charman will be discussing items on display and telling the story of how Britain engaged with alternative economies of clothing, from the rationing system to Make Do and Mend and the standardised, centralised production of the Utility Clothing scheme.

TICKETS HERE! And more on the full summer programme of fashion lectures at the Museum of Curiosities HERE.


And don’t forget, Riviera Style at the Fashion & Textile Museum is now open! Head there to see fashion at its most fun from the British seaside to the Côte d’Azur and California. And while you’re there don’t miss my Nautical Chic display! You will find nautical fashion plates and photoshoots, naval uniforms and seaside ephemera all hand-picked by yours truly to illustrate the timeless appeal of maritime style. Don’t miss it!

riviera style lauch copy

exhibition for blog

In exciting news, we (the Broken Hearts) are DJing at the launch of the Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition at the V&A. The show looks at extremes of footwear around the globe, from Ancient Egypt to the present day. For insider info on the show, be sure to join me at my Shoes from Sport to Sex evening at the Museum of Curiosities. Tickets are here.

Shoes July event 1

In other exciting news, Nautical Chic is now available across north America! It’s officially out Stateside through Abrams Books. Anchors aweigh!

US NauticalChic

I was very pleased to speak at the Disseminating Dress conference at the University of York. The conference explored how ideas and knowledge about dress have been communicated throughout history, and I spoke on the influence of Hollywood costume on London fashion in the early 1930s. So I took the opportunity to dress like Ruby Keeler:

diss dress                                                                                                                                                  Film Pictorial, June 4th, 1932

Finally, if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching a couple of short courses at London College of Fashion over the summer. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s. And you also get a copy of my first book! It’s running from Tuesday 28th – Friday 31st July, and Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th September. BOOKING and info HERE.

Newsflash: Riviera Style & Nautical Chic

Newsflash: Riviera Style & Nautical Chic

Spring has well and truly sprung, and what better way to celebrate than with an exhibition that celebrates style by the sea?! Opening on 22nd May (and running until 30th August), Riviera Style at the Fashion & Textile Museum looks at fashion at its most fun from the British seaside to the Côte d’Azur and California. With swimsuits and sarongs, boat neck Bretons and beach pyjamas, palazzo pants and playsuits, bikinis and burkinis, the exhibition brings together a diverse range of clothing worn in and by the sea covering over 100 years of leisure. And if that weren’t exciting enough, the Fashion Studio at the Fashion & Textile Museum will be dedicated to Nautical Chic throughout the duration of Riviera Style! It will feature information from the book as well as a few garments hand-picked by yours truly that illustrate the timeless appeal of maritime style. See more info here, and I’ll be giving a talk on the relationship between fashion and the sea on 16th July.

Read more about the exhibition in this Telegraph piece on the development of seaside style, in which I discuss the nostalgic appeal of vintage swimwear.

riviera-styleRiviera Style at the Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF


… to get the lowdown on all things nautical, come and see me chat about the maritime history behind the clothes we love at Hoxton Hotel on 26th May at 7pm. I’ll be exploring the birth of the naval uniform in the 18th century and its appropriation into womenswear, featuring designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen. Tickets are FREE! Get them HERE!

… and I will be talking about the sexualisation of the Victorian sailor, cross-dressing on the Music Hall stage, sailor style and the birth of a gay icon at Salon for the City: Sailortown on May 28th at 6.30pm. Also speaking will be Alex Werner of the Museum of London Docklands on London’s 19th century Sailortown. Get your tickets here!


SPEAKING OF NAUTICAL CHIC… We have gone international! It has been featured in D2 magazine (lifestyle supplement of Norway’s largest business paper Dagens Næringsliv), in Ireland’s Sunday Business Post and was also chosen as one of the best style books for spring by Canada’s national paper, the Globe and Mail. Not to mention Libby Purves gave it a glowing review in Yachting Monthly, and CNN ran a gorgeous piece on the enduring appeal of nautical design. Also thank you to the fantastic Rosalind Jana, who wrote a great review for the Thames & Hudson blog!

nautical press 1Click twice to read in full

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 22.10.42



… on ITV’s Good Morning Britain about what to wear to work, and the idea of a ‘work uniform’ for the 21st century. You can watch it here.


… in Dubai about ’10 Garments that Changed the World’ at Fashion Forward, the definitive fashion platform for the Middle East. You can watch it here.

fashion forward dubaiPicture on the right from Arabia

… I was asked by the Beeb to comment on Nigel Farage’s coat. They only used a fraction of what I said, but you can see more here.

… I was also asked about the cultural context of the bob hairstyle for newly launched online space for women, The Pool. See it here.


… about what to wear to the boat race for The Guardian, in a piece brilliantly titled Blazer of Glory. Read about: blazers (obvs), hats, Chanel, team colours & representation for women, here.

… about beauty as a battleground for Sali Hughes Beauty, in relation to the Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. Read about: beauty as a national duty, wartime make up cheats and military-themed powder compacts, here.

guardianChanel and Preen in The Guardian; a member of Air Raid Precautions staff applies lipstick between emergency calls, c1940 © IWM


My summer series of Theatre of Fashion salons at Hackney’s Museum of Curiosities is live! Join me for the Politics of Fashion with Tansy Hoskins and the Imperial War Museum on June 16th; Shoes from Sport to Sex with the V&A’s Helen Persson and Dr Thomas Turner on July 7th and an immersive history of Curious Cosmetics with Odette Toilette and Julian Walker on September 16th. More info to follow, and join the Facebook event here.

museum of curiosities

Speaking of events, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped to launch Nautical Chic in style! Especially Beyond RetroThe Blues Kitchen, Thames & Hudson, Sailor Jerry and Tatty DevineGemma Cairney and Bones Brigade for the music, and Luka Marchant for the fabulous pictures. You can see more of Luka‘s pictures of Nautical Chic setting sail right here. It was quite the party!

nautical party

Finally, if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching a short course at London College of Fashion over the summer. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s. And you also get a copy of my first book! It’s running from Tuesday 28th – Friday 31st July. BOOKING and info HERE.

Until next time!

Newsflash: Sailor Style!

Newsflash: Sailor Style!


Nautical Chic is finally out! As we set sail upon the Good Ship Nautical, it’s time to batten down the hatches and lay aside the endless maritime puns as I’ve teamed up with my former employer and spiritual home Beyond Retro to bring you an extra special Nautical Chic collection of vintage pieces. Shop now for bell bottoms, sailor-collar blouses, brocade-trimmed naval jackets, anchor motif dresses and STRIPES! (And men fear not, your nautical edit is here!)


I also had a chat with them about writing the book, and why Lowestoft fishergirls are my ultimate style inspo. Read about it here.

As part of the collaboration I’ll be doing an instore talk at Beyond Retro Dalston on 22nd April at 7pm, looking at the relationship between maritime dress and fashion. You can get your FREE tickets HERE!

And if that wasn’t enough, we are running the nautical competition to end all nautical competitions! THE AWESOME PRIZES: a signed copy of Nautical Chic, a pair of ferry tickets with Red Funnel to the Isle of Wight, weekend accommodation with Vintage Vacations (worth up to £285), a bottle of Sailor Jerry rum, and a Beyond Retro nautical goodie bag. Shiver me timbers, what’s not to love?! To win you just have to answer one simple question by 14th April. ENTER HERE!

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 18.03.06Beyond Retro amber robAll clothes from Beyond Retro (of course), including the 1950s Mary Maxim pirate cardigan on the right that features in Nautical Chic, expertly modelled by my other half Rob Flowers

Sticking with the seafaring theme (obvs), on April 28th at 6.30pm join me and Dr Matt Lodder for Nautical but Nice at the Museum of Curiosities. I will be chatting all things sailor-style, followed by tattoo historian Dr Matt Lodder. Matt is an Art Historian at the University of Essex who specialises in the history of tattooing as an artistic practice. His research challenges preconceptions of body modification and uncovers little-known histories of the practice in Victorian Britain and beyond. In this talk, ‘Not Just For Sailors,’ Matt will be exploring the history of tattoos in high society and the deep roots of a very familiar cliché. TICKETS and info HERE

Nautical but NiceMatt Lodder; Le négligé galant ornés de la coéffure à la Belle-Poule, 1778. Image Courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

As I may have mentioned, Nautical Chic IS OUT NOW and is available through Foyles, Waterstones and all other good book shops. You may remember it from such publications as Glamour, The Guardian and Stella magazine

Nautical Press AprilNautical Chic featured in the editor’s page of May’s Glamour magazine, online at The Guardian & in the Telegraph’s Stella magazine


I was the Listed Londoner on BBC London’s fantastic Robert Elms show. Listen HERE for my top London buildings, my favourite London character and which period of London I would visit if I had a time machine.

You can currently see me at the very brilliant Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, chatting about the fashion legacy of World War Two. The exhibition covers everything from wartime beauty to Utility dress and Make Do and Mend, it’s a must-see show (and not just because it includes my face).

IWM Robert ElmsAt the Fashion on the Ration exhibition; on the Robert Elms show


Read about my desert island beauty essentials and how I learned my best make-up tips from drag queens at Sali Hughes Beauty.

Read about being a fashion historian, privilege in the arts & my feminist wish for the future at Occupy Me.

Read about my nautical research process & the romanticisation of maritime workwear at Address Journal for Fashion Criticism where Nautical Chic is book of the month.

Finally, if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching a couple of short courses at London College of Fashion over the summer. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s. And you also get a copy of my first book! It’s running on Saturdays from 16th May – 6th June, and on consecutive days from Tuesday 28th – Friday 31st July. BOOKING and info HERE.

Until next time, anchors aweigh!