De-constructing Couture

Saturday, October 15th 2011

Venue: London College of Fashion, 20 John Princes Street, London W1M OBJ

Organisation: Costume Society

Introduced by Alexandra Kim, Curator of the Royal Dress Collections at Kensington Palace, the day will examine the changing nature of couture production, the relationship between couturier and client and the commercial and artistic aspect of this most controversial and inspiring branch of fashion.

Alongside papers on the relationship between theatre and fashion at the turn of the nineteenth century and the emergence of Couture as Art Form in the present day, there will be papers on Charles James and Thea Porter as well as an insight into the world of Vivienne Westwood.

There will also be a small display of couture garments from the collection of Leicestershire Museums.


International Couture

10.30 Registration and chance to see couture items from Leicestershire collection brought by Philip Warren

11.00 Welcome and introduction Alexandra Kim

11.10 Keynote talk

Charles James: Genius Deconstructed

Timothy Long (Curator, Chicago Historical Society)

11.50 From Catwalk to Gallery: Couturier as Curator

Helen Ritchie (Curatorial Intern, Decorative Arts Department, Royal Collection)

12.20 Performing Haute Couture in the 21st Century: Art or Commerce?

Nathaniel Beard (PhD Candidate in Fashion Womenswear at Royal College of Art)

12.40 Questions for morning speakers

12.55 Lunch

London Couture

13.45 Keynote talk

The bride wore ... Victor Stiebel's wedding dresses Beatrice Behlen (Senior Curator, Fashion & Decorative Arts at Museum of London)

14.25 Vivienne Westwood Couture

Brigitte Stepputtis (Head of Couture at Vivienne Westwood) in conversation with Philip Warren

15.00 Staging Couture: Theatre and Fashion in the late 19th and 20th century

Veronica Isaac (Catalogue and Curatorial Assistant, Department of Theatre and Performance, V&A and Keeper of Costume, Chertsey)

15.30 The Intimate World of Thea Porter Couture Laura McLaws Helms (Graduate Student, Cultural and Historical Studies in Fashion and Textiles)

16.00 Questions for afternoon speakers

16.15 End of Study Day

  • Evening dress by Charles James, 1954
  • Cocktail ensemble by Hubert de Givenchy
  • 'The Skeleton Dress', Elsa Schiaparelli