Talks and tours

The Personal, Fashionable and Archival Spaces of Hair

Fri 25 Nov 2016
£20.00 / £15.00 concessions

Concession price tickets apply to over 60s, teachers, tutors, disabled, students and registered unwaged. You will need to bring relevant ID to verify your status.

Screening Room
South Wing

A symposium organised by the Fashion Research Network to accompany Hair by Sam McKnight

Of all the body’s components, hair is perhaps the most ambiguous, being both corporeal and in many ways as much a fashion accessory as a bag, shoe or hat. Hair is an intrinsic yet expendable aspect of the self; an organic entity that we may alter almost infinitely. We cut, shape, and style it in order to transform an image, or regenerate an identity. In so doing we negotiate many, unspoken social and cultural rules. Away from the body, hair evokes mortality, histories, or serves as a keepsake, a reminder of the bodies to which it was once attached. The speakers featured in this interdisciplinary symposium will draw on the many meanings and connections of hair, by variously examining three arenas in which it may be considered: the personal space of the salon, the visual space of artistic practice and the archival space of the museum.


10.00 Welcome
10.10 Curator’s Introduction: Shonagh Marshall
10.30 Keynote: Dr Sarah Cheang (Royal College of Art)
11.20 Salon
This section features four twenty-minute papers, and an introduction and response by moderator Dr Geraldine Biddle-Perry (Central Saint Martins)
13.10 Lunch (not provided)
14.00 Image and Artists’ Practice
This section features three twenty-minute papers, and an introduction and response by moderator Dr Alice Beard (Kingston University)
15.30 Tea/Coffee Break (provided)
16.00 Museum
This section features three twenty-minute papers, and an introduction and response by moderator Beatrice Behlen (Museum of London)
17.30 Closing Remarks / exhibition tours of Hair by Sam McKnight commence


Keynote speaker
Sarah Cheang is Senior Tutor in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art, London. Her research centres on transnational fashion, material culture and the body from the nineteenth century to the present day, on which she has published widely. Her work is characterized by a concern with the experience and expression of ethnicity through fashion and body adornment. She co-edited the collection Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion (2008), writing on hair and race, as well as reflecting more generally on the meanings of hair within a wide range of cultures. Fascinated by states of in-between and the creative potential of metamorphosis and misunderstanding, she recently led the research project Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China, Korea (2014-15), exploring East Asian identities through the ways that fashion travels between cultures. She is currently embarking on a new photographic project on hair, humanity and cycles of life and death”.

Geraldine Biddle-Perry is a fashion and cultural historian and lectures in Cultural Studies at Central St Martins. Her research and writing explores the self-conscious fashioning of diverse modern bodies through popular consumption: in the context of class, recreational leisure and social aspiration since the late nineteenth century; ceremonial team uniforms and an emerging modern Olympic movement; and the symbolic and social significance of hair and its styling in the modern age. A monograph examining the politics of fashion and leisure in ‘Austerity Britain’ in the late 1940s is shortly to be published. She is Series Editor of an important new multi-volume collection currently in production exploring the Cultural History of Hair from Antiquity to the present day.

Alice Beard is Senior Lecturer in Design History at Kingston University. Her teaching and research is focused on fashion media and the intersections between fashion, design, text and photography. She is particularly interested in magazine cultures and using oral history to reconstruct production and consumption histories. Her publications include articles in Fashion Theory Journal for the ‘Fashion & Photography’ (2002), and ‘Fashion Curation’ (2008) special editions. She contributed book chapters on Seventies fashion editor Caroline Baker for Fashion Media: Past & Present (Bartlett, Cole & Rocamora, eds., Berg 2012), and on styling and the construction of a fashionable ‘look’ in Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion (Biddle-Perry & Cheang, eds., 2008). Beard curated ‘Beauty Queens: Smiles, Swimsuits and Sabotage’ (2004) and ‘Remembering Nova Magazine 1965-1976’ (2006) at The Women’s Library, London. Alice Beard was awarded a PhD for her history of Nova magazine from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2014.

Beatrice Behlen studied fashion design in Germany before moving to London in 1989. After gaining a postgraduate degree in the History of Dress from the Courtauld Institute, Beatrice worked as curatorial assistant at Kensington Palace. She then taught the history of fashion and design at several art colleges before working at a contemporary art gallery. In 2003 Beatrice returned to Kensington Palace where she curated and co-curated exhibitions on coronation robes, the Queen’s hats, Mario Testino’s photographs of Diana Princess of Wales and the influence of Princess Margaret on fashion. Since 2007 Beatrice is Senior Curator of Fashion & Decorative Arts at the Museum of London where she has worked on the Galleries of Modern London, curated displays on jewellery and fashion photography and co-ordinates Show Space, a monthly changing display. Beatrice also works as associate lecturer for the BA Fashion History and Theory course at Central Saint Martins.

The Fashion Research Network (FRN) is a collaborative venture led by Nathaniel Beard, Ellen Sampson, Alexis Romano, Katerina Pantelides and Lucia Savi to promote and share the work of PhD and early career researchers in fashion and dress studies. Recognising the interdisciplinarity of these fields, the FRN provides a space for meeting, discussion and collaboration for researchers with a range of backgrounds, including fashion design or business, history, art history, economics, anthropology, psychology, gender studies, cultural studies and philosophy. It also seeks to reinvigorate the relationship between contemporary, practice-based and historical fashion and dress studies. To date, the varied approaches of FRN’s participants to these constantly evolving fields have led to discussions about not only fashion research but the nature of fashion or dress itself.