Announcement and CFP: Fashion and Democracy?

Call For Papers: Fashion and Democracy?

The Costume Society Conference in Manchester, England

Friday 8 – Sunday 10 July 2016

Image courtesy of The Costume Society

Image courtesy of The Costume Society

The 2016 Conference is taking place in the recently renovated Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, one of the most remarkable galleries in the North. Lectures will take place in the Grand Hall, with visits to the Gallery’s new Study Centre, Platt Hall, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and the Textile Conservation Centre* at the People’s History Museum.

On Saturday night all conference delegates can come together at a dinner to be held in central Manchester.

Presentations will explore the theme of “Fashion and Democracy?”

The keynote speakers are:

  • Professor John Styles, Research Professor in History, University of Hertfordshire
    Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Victoria and Albert Museum, “Fashion to a Timetable: Re-scheduling European Fashion in an Era of Expanding Markets, 1500-1800”
  • Dr Philip Sykas, Research Associate, Manchester Metropolitan University, “Maintaining a distance: fashion in the wake of Manchester’s calicos”
  • Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces, title to be announced



Sessions designed and dedicated to finding out about the very latest progress in research across different disciplines of fashion, design, and conservation.  See website for further details.


Accommodation will be available to book at a choice of two venues.  Four-star accommodation is available at the Novotel Hotel, a 10-minute walk to Manchester Piccadilly train station and a 15-minute walk to the Whitworth.  Prices start from £99 per room per night (B&B). Budget accommodation will be announced in the autumn. All buses from Oxford Road will take you direct to the Whitworth Gallery.  Transport will be provided on Sunday afternoon to Platt Hall/Gaskell’s house. Booking information, including reference to quote along with booking contact details, will be provided in the next Society newsletter and in the booking form inserted into the next edition of Costume.

How and When to Book the Conference:

Booking for the conference will be available approximately six months prior to the event. A booking form will be inserted into the next edition of Costume with online booking available from January 2016.  Information about booking accommodation will be provided in the Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016 newsletters of the Society and on its website.

* Due to limited access, tours of the Textile Conservation Centre will be on a first-come-first-served basis.



The conference theme is Fashion and Democracy? This is intentionally wide-ranging and offers many possibilities for papers focusing on any aspect, period, or geographical area in relation to dress and appearance. Papers are welcomed which interpret the theme imaginatively through different approaches and issues, drawing on interdisciplinary research based on garments and accessories, jewelry, photography, film, literature, and archives.

Subjects might fall within some of the following headings:

  • The impact of technology
  • The use of dress to communicate political affiliation and resistance
  • Non-elite fashion and consumer demand
  • Street style
  • The fashion press and fashion in film

The Costume Society welcomes papers from academics, collectors, curators, designers, researchers, students, and independent scholars. Those wishing to offer papers should submit an abstract of about 200 words with a short CV by 16th October 2015 in WORD (no formatting). All submissions will receive replies by January 2016. Papers, with the exception of those by keynote speakers will be of 30 minutes duration with illustrations by PowerPoint.


Are you currently undertaking research, or have you just completed research? At the Society Conference each year, a speaker or speaker(s) will be invited to present their latest research and ideas in the context of fashion, design, or conservation. Speakers will be invited to use image-rich, and/or object-based content to illustrate their work, which is not required to be linked to the Conference theme. The applicant(s) will be selected with a Call for Speakers across all social media platforms and will be selected by a panel made up of the Conference Advisory Panel. The successful applicant(s) will be required to speak for 20 – 40 minutes. Please submit your application in WORD format with a 200 word abstract supplied with a short biography on the same page.  More information is available online.


Having access to professionals working in the field will be an integral part of the conference program – from mentoring to opportunities for networking being made a priority at every point throughout the two-and-a-half days.  Professionals will be drawn from Society trustees, officers, and delegates and matched throughout the booking process and welcome point at registration. We are also launching another new session, “Soapbox – get up and speak!” – an informal way of giving the whole audience a chance to share their knowledge or build confidence through public speaking. Each “soapbox” speaker will be invited to speak for 10 minutes. There is no requirement to submit a paper for consideration; however you must be registered as a delegate and advise the conference coordinator of your intention to speak. A maximum of six soapbox speakers will be admitted so places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. More information is available online.

Abstracts and CVs should be sent to

All submissions will be considered by an advisory panel made up from the Costume Society Executive Committee and an employee of one of the destination organizations.

The Society is a registered educational charity and regrets that it is not possible to pay for expenses in the preparation and presentation of a paper, or for travel to the conference.

The Society offers a bursary for two students to attend the conference – details can be found on their website. Concessions are available for student members.

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