5 Minutes with….Professor Deborah Swallow



Professor Deborah Swallow is Märit Rausing Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art. Before coming to the Courtauld in 2004, she worked in various museums, including the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Victoria and Albert Museum, where she was head of the Indian department. Teaching in India for a year gave her a deep interest in the culture of the country, which she explored through the discipline of social anthropology and as a curator in the context of an art museum. While at the V&A she also oversaw the creation of the Nehru Gallery of Indian Art.

What are you wearing today?

Today I am wearing an older Indian jacket. It is made from a fabric that is normally used for shawls. It is a called a Nehru jacket, and the cut is based on India’s first independence Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It’s a man’s garment, and is very similar to the Achkan, which is North Indian court dress.

Where does the inspiration for your dress come from?

I started going to India in 1969 and wore what you would describe as ‘missionary dress.’ This was in the ‘60s so skirts were very short, but that wasn’t appropriate for India, so my mother made me a longer skirt. But I felt pressure to wear a sari. So I bought one for 45 rupees, but then I was told off because the quality wasn’t good enough for someone who would be lecturing at a university. So I stopped wearing saris because I couldn’t afford to buy good enough quality ones on my budget.

So I started to wear a shalwar kameez, which is long shirt over loose trousers. Now there is a very heavy Western influence on Indian dress, and Indian styles are subject to changing fashions, such as the length of the sleeves or trousers. There are also subtle regional and local variations.

Where do you get your clothes from?

I buy all my jackets readymade- I’m back and forth like a yo-yo so I’m never in India long enough to have them made for me! I get them in Jodhpur in the old town bazaar. Jodhpur trousers that are worn for horse riding actually originate in Jodhpur, because they’re horse riding people. The bazaar is seven stories tall, with really narrow staircases. It is absolutely full of textiles, both antique and new.

Do you feel that being the head of the Courtauld dictates the way you dress?

Yes, I feel I have to dress reasonably formally. I tend to wear a lot of structured clothing because it suits me. I have to wear things that are suitable for both day and evening. I wear a lot of trousers, as you might have noticed, because they are comfortable. These jackets are very practical because they can be worn over anything to be dressed up or dressed down. I can wear them over trousers like this, or over silk trousers to be more formal.

Libby [Debby’s PA] said that you keep a cupboard full of jackets at the Courtauld?

 Yes I do, to put on if I need to, but it’s not very full at the moment. This jacket is really nice- it’s quilted. There is one quilted style from Jodhpur that I really want. It’s very long and made of velvet and normally dark green. Jodhpur is in Northern India so it’s desert and can get very cold at night. So this style is perfect, it’s like being wrapped in a divan.

Any other comments or clothing secrets?

 A group of us from the Courtauld had our colours done once, so I know what goes with my complexion. I avoid yellows and browns and stick to reds and blues.

5 Minutes with… Harrison Goldman

Harrison 01

Harrison hard at work in the Courtauld Slide Library.

Detail of Harrison's jacket.

Detail of Harrison’s jacket.

Detail of Harrison's sleeve.

Detail of Harrison’s sleeve.

Harrison is a second year undergraduate at The Courtauld, currently specialising in 20th Century Modernism and Renaissance Mannerism. When he is not studying, he can often be found hard at work in the Gallery, the Research Forum, Public Programmes or the Slide Library. Harrison was the BA1 Representative for the Students Union last year, in addition to playing the role of Malvolio in the Courtauld’s first play, Twelfth Night. Beyond the Courtauld, he works as an Antiques, Collectables and Vintage Consultant, advising clients on buying and selling objects of all genres.

What are you wearing today?

Today I am wearing a navy double-breasted boating blazer, an Austin Reed pinstripe shirt, pale blue chinos and Barker shoes.

How would you describe your style?

Eclectic, vintage, traditional, sartorial.

Have you always dressed like this?

Would you believe it, no! My style emerged and developed when I discovered a love of all things old-fashioned and traditional about 5-6 years ago.

Where do you look for inspiration in how you dress?

I’m quite active in the London ‘vintage’ scene, and have met some amazing people who put real passion into their outfits. But if I see something that I like I’ll try and source one, rather than emulate an entire look.

Harrison participated in the Tweed Run on 17th May 2014, photographed here at Somerset House.

Harrison participated in the Tweed Run on 17th May 2014, photographed here at Somerset House.

How does your interest in antiques inform your style?

When handling wonderful items, in stunning settings (not to mention dealing with customers) it would be rude to wear a tee-shirt and tracksuit bottoms.

Do you have a particular dress code for the Courtauld and how does this translate when you are ‘off duty’?

We are so privileged to study in such an amazing location, steeped in history. But as I work both in and outside the Courtauld, I often need to be smartly dressed. I did however turn up in a jeans and tee-shirt for a lecture the other day, which a friend was somewhat disturbed by!

What does your look say about you?

Well that is probably in the eye of the beholder! But I hope it would suggest I take pride in my appearance.

Where do you like to shop?

Vintage shops, eBay, and the family wardrobe. I’m sometimes given things, but when buying new I try and stick to long established quality outfitters such as Cordings, Hackett, Wolsey, Jaeger etc.

Any other comments or clothing secrets?

‘Why dress down when you can dress up?’

A small part of Harrison's Gladstone bag collection.

A small part of Harrison’s Gladstone bag collection.

5 minutes with…Emma McClendon


Emma McClendon graduated from The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2011 and is now an assistant curator at the Museum at the FIT, New York. She is currently working on an exhibition on 1970s fashion by Halston and Yves Saint Laurent. She lives on the Lower East Side.

What are you wearing today?

I am wearing Alexander Wang boots and a shirtdress by Veronique Leroy. I am also wearing faux-leather shorts from Zara underneath my dress…a funny fact about New York is that in summer a lot of girls wear shorts beneath their dresses because it’s a particularly windy city! But it’s also just too hot not to wear something flowing.

How would you describe your style?

I would say minimal but with an interest in volume and different kinds of shapes and silhouettes. I wear a lot of black, white and navy. I definitely have a favourite silhouette that I wear. I tend to like chunkier shoes with skinny pants and bigger tops.

Who are your favourite designers?

Personally, I gravitate towards stuff by Alexander Wang, I wear a lot of Theory as well and I like the more minimal stuff from Opening Ceremony, based here in New York. I also wear a lot of Reformation – they are a great sustainable brand that make all of their pieces out of pre-used or upcycled materials.

What is your dress code at the FIT?

There are things I wear to work such as pencil skirts and collared shirts that I might not wear during my “off-duty time”. I probably wouldn’t wear my denim overalls, oversized sweaters and jean jackets to work. In a way, I suppose I have more tones of grunge in my off-duty look that I don’t bring to work. This is no doubt a product of having grown-up in the Nineties!

Have you ever worked on an exhibition that inspired you to dress differently?

Every exhibition that you work on affects some aspect of the way that you dress. You look at different styles and time periods every day, and you start to gravitate towards pieces. I’ve been working for the last six months on a show about 1970s fashion and since then I have invested in a jumpsuit. Also, I used to have really long hair… but after admiring a picture of Anjelica Huston on the Halston runway, I decided to cut my hair short like hers.

Did your style change whilst studying in London?

Yes. One thing that came out of me being in London was definitely black opaque tights with everything, anytime of year!

New York City summers are HOT. What are your tricks to stay cool?

You need to wear short skirts and flowing things because it is so hot here that you will die otherwise. I deal with the heat by carrying my make-up in my bag in case I need to touch-up and by leaving a jacket at work (for when it gets too cold inside with the air conditioning). One thing I would say about New York summer is that you have to embrace the heat and accept the fact that you are going to be sweaty and nasty – we are all in it together and everyone feels disgusting!

5 Minutes With… Syed Ahsan Abbas

Syed fountains
Syed rings
Syed liberty
liberty detail

What are you wearing today?
Yohji Yamamoto coat and trousers, a black Comme des Garçons t-shirt, a white Ann Demeulemeester shirt, and black Converse. Most of my wardrobe is Yohji Yamamoto, when I first tried it on, it just felt right. Like Wim Wenders says in his documentary, it’s as if he knew me. His clothes always feel comfortably worn-in, because when he designs he says that he wishes he could use fabric that was already ten years old. This means that his clothes age well, and you can buy good second-hand Yohji on the internet that still looks contemporary because he doesn’t change his line drastically from season to season.

Tell me about your jewellery?
My bracelet and skull ring are Werkstatt Munchen. The oxidised band was made for me by a friend, and I bought the agate ring in Damascus. I wear the same jewellery every day. I just got my ears pierced, so I’m on the look-out for interesting earrings.

Have you always dressed like this?
No, in the academic year of 2009/10 I used to dress crazily with lots of colour and print. I had a three-piece suit, bow-tie and pocket square. The Courtauld is a good place to dress like that because no one bats an eye-lid. Then I got ill and was away from the Courtauld for a few years. By the time I returned, I had sold everything in my wardrobe and started from scratch, because the way I was dressing and the way I wanted to dress were so different. People used to see the clothes, not me. So I stopped dressing in front of a mirror and started to wear a personal uniform. If I’m wearing all black then people think I’m wearing the same thing, but only I know about the differences in cut, proportion and line.

Can you tell me why you don’t dress before a mirror?
The way I dress is less about looking a certain way; it’s about feeling a certain way. I wanted to learn why I dress in a certain way, and it had to be a personal journey. How can you begin to understand why other people dress the way they do if you don’t understand your own choices? In one History of Dress class, Rebecca (Arnold) advised everyone to try on a corset to see how it felt. I was the only man in the class. She looked at me and said: ‘Yes, including you Syed’. I’m not a cross-dresser, but I’ve tried on a corset and a full-length gown. Womenswear is a completely different way of interacting with the world. How can you understand it if you don’t try it?

How do you store and document your clothes?
I can fit my wardrobe into a suitcase. It’s very small because I’m learning from the ground up. I never keep anything that I don’t wear, but I do keep photographs of everything I’ve bought, sold or given away. The one item I have for sentimental reasons is a tiny red sweater with ‘cheeky monkey’ on the front with a label that says ‘three to six months’. My family had very little money then, and there are no photos of me from that age, so that sweater is an important memory, it keeps me grounded.

Any other wardrobe secrets?
(Pulls out a bright Liberty-print handkerchief) I end up giving these away. When I see someone crying, which is common around exam and dissertation time, I hand them one and then through sniffles they promise to give it back to me, but I let them keep it.

5 Minutes with… Christine Quach

Christine at Somerset House, outside of The Courtauld. All photos by Jennifer Potter.

Christine at Somerset House, outside of The Courtauld. All photos by Jennifer Potter.

Perfecting the art of layering.

Perfecting the art of layering.

Melissa The Little Prince shoes

Melissa The Little Prince shoes

“S’il vous plait… Dessine-moi un mouton…”

“S’il vous plait… Dessine-moi un mouton…”

Christine’s ruffled sleeve – inspired by her love of the seventeenth century!

Christine’s ruffled sleeve – inspired by her love of the seventeenth century!

Another vintage find!

Another vintage find!

Christine hails from the ‘shire’ of Los Angeles, California. She is an MA student at The Courtauld, specialising in early modern Netherlandish art, and she is currently writing her dissertation on alchemy in seventeenth-century Dutch painting.


Tell me about what you are wearing. I am wearing a Burberry trench and a vintage French 1940s jacket over a silky blouse, decorated with hot air balloons and a little pussy bow. I paired these with a simple pair of dark jeans and my Melissa The Little Prince shoes. 


How would you describe your style? That’s a hard question because I can never actually figure out what my style is!  I think my cousin once described it as twisted and whimsical yet sophisticated. I was not exactly sure what that meant back then, but I guess now that I have developed it, that sounds about right. 


Where do you look for inspiration in how you dress? Being an art historian, I usually look at historical sources. I like to start with a theme. In the winter, for example, I am often in the mood for something Victorian, and I might dress as though I’m going hunting in the nineteenth century!


What do you think your look says about you? That I am rather eccentric.


Has being a MA student at The Courtauld influenced your fashion at all? If so, how? To be honest, unless I’m feeling good on a specific day, I often feel too stressed to dress up as often as I usually would.


Has your MA specialisation in Netherlandish art inspired your dress at all? Certainly! I always liked the seventeenth century, especially the costumes, so I like to have a lot of ruffled blouses, lace, and things like that.


What are your go-to shopping places in London? I go to a lot of sample sales. I did not realise that I would go to so many sample sales in London. 

5 MINUTES WITH… Antony Hopkins

Antony Hopkins

You would expect a librarian to be organised and efficient, and Antony Hopkins, Kilfinan Librarian, Head of Book, Witt and Conway Libraries at The Courtauld extends these professional skills into all aspects of his life. So, when I met him recently for a chat about his clothes, he had just packed away his autumn/winter wardrobe and swapped to spring/summer styles ready for the new season. This meant a pairing of crisp cotton shirt in a red and white check, and pale chinos – a suitably breezy outfit for the all too rare London sunshine.

While Antony favours American sportswear labels – today’s ensemble is all from Banana Republic – he is keen to set parameters on just how casually dressed you can be at work.  He has considered the possibility of wearing ‘a jean’ to the library, but he feels that ‘biscuit’ Calvin Klein trousers are as informal as he should go – although he has been known to wear cargo shorts in summer. And one of the things I like about Antony’s workwear is that there is always a slight holiday air to his outfits that adds to our libraries’ cheerful atmosphere.

Another aspect of Antony’s attitude to fashion that endears him to dress historians, is his consciousness of the ways clothing must not just meet your own ideas of appropriateness and style, but also – to paraphrase Erving Goffman – meet the expectations of those you will encounter in the workplace. Indeed, Antony draws on Ru Paul’s oft-quoted truism that ‘we’re born naked, and the rest is drag’, to describe his own dressing process as donning ‘work drag.’ A brilliant way to think about how we transform ourselves to – quite literally – perform our required role.

This is not to say that he ignores the more personal and intimate aspects of dressing. As he talks about his clothes, Antony continually refers to his partner and family – demonstrating how entwined our sense of self and interest in dress is with memory and relationships to others.  Thus, he describes how he and his partner share clothes – which simultaneously ‘doubles and halves your wardrobe,’ while he discusses his love of Crocs as in part a result of heredity. Since, as his Grandma would say, ‘we’re right wide-footed [in our family].’

Ah yes, the rather controversial subject of his choice of footwear. He has a big collection of Crocs, in various styles and colours that he shares with his partner. Antony sees them as not just ‘incredibly comfortable,’ but also as having a ‘Bauhaus-ness‘ to them. This opinion has led to an ongoing – good-natured – dispute with one of The Courtauld’s professors, who fails to see the link between these moulded plastic shoes and modernist Weimar design. A lively debate that only adds to Antony’s value to the dress history community, as well as to The Courtauld’s Libraries.

5 minutes with… Carey Gibbons

IMG_1794 IMG_1792 IMG_1788IMG_1789

Carey Gibbons is a Fourth Year PhD student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, supervised by Professor Caroline Arscott. She was born and grew up in Memphis Tennessee, lived in New York City for ten years, and came to the Courtauld in 2009.

What are you wearing?

A black sweatshirt with a giant shark made out of rhinestones and little orange spikes for the teeth, a black fake leather skirt, black leggings and black lace-up ankle boots.

Where did you find the shark sweater?

I got it from the Forever 21 store in Chicago in January.

What has been its biggest adventure to date?

I’ve only worn it a few times, but I wore it with James (my boyfriend) to the Apple store and we took a bunch of photos on their computer. I guess you could say this shirt brings out my playful side.

Why did you want to look playful today?

It was raining and I was feeling down so I put it on and I felt more upbeat and motivated. Because a shark is a fierce creature it helps me attack my day with ferocity, perseverance and determination. Bam! (pumps the air with her fist)

Is this what you wear to the Courtauld typically?

Yes, it’s pretty typical. I like wearing clothes that incorporate animals in some way. I have a lot of clothes with animal print. I have animal jewellery. I have a shark-tooth necklace which is really important to me and a fox necklace made out of rhinestones that I really like wearing.

Is there a practical aspect to what you’re wearing?

I wear black leggings a lot because they’re really comfortable. My boots are flat… I like to wear flats or low heels so that I’m comfortable.

How does being a PhD student as opposed to a staff member or undergraduate influence how you dress?

I think if I was a staff member or a postdoctoral fellow, then I would make more of an effort to look professional, but for now I’m celebrating the opportunity to wear whatever I want and express myself through my clothes.

What makes you stand out from other Courtauldians?

(Laughs) I seek to combine the sweet and the vicious in my clothes. I would say that other Courtauldians exude a less eclectic vibe and they go for one dominant style, whereas I celebrate my contradictions!

Is there anything about your appearance or dress that marks you out as a Courtauldian?

Courtauldians imbue poise and confidence. Despite going for an eclectic look, I always try and look like I’m composed.

Has your PhD in Victorian illustration inspired your dress sense at all?

Since studying Victorian illustration I’ve become more interested in prints and I’m really into designers like Mary Katranzou and Clover Canyon. I was also captivated by the use of embroidered prints borrowed from imaginary ethnic groups in the Valentino S/S 14 collection. I like experiments with line and pattern to create a mood or evoke a fantasy world.

5 minutes with… Teresa Fogarty



How to dress for work? – This is a question women have been grappling with for at least a hundred and fifty years. How to appear appropriate, professional, fit into your environment, while looking stylish and individual? The Courtauld Institute’s receptionist of 12 years, Teresa Fogarty has another, more practical concern to add to the list – how to cope with the freezing winter air that blows into the foyer each time someone opens the front door!

As she says, ‘It’s quite awkward dressing smartly for work because I need to keep warm.’ So, Teresa has developed a well-edited selection of cashmere knitwear, neat trousers and colourful accessories to meet the challenge and project a stylish image to our visitors.

On the day we talked, she was wearing navy cords, and a matching cashmere cardigan and knotted scarf, with touches of bright primaries on a blue and white ground. Like a newsreader – her ‘audience’ usually sees her from the waist up – and her accessories draw focus, while also providing the needed protection from the elements, as she says, they ‘make an outfit and brighten everything up.’

Her eye for detail and coordination taps into workwear fail-safes that have developed since the 1930s. Soft textures, worn with tailoring and interchangeable separates are the key to her look. “I love cashmere…It’s so warm without being heavy,’ she says, ‘I generally go to Marks and Spencer’s or occasionally Jigsaw.’ Scarves are another favourite – a multi-striped silk one from Paul Smith proving to be especially versatile, its subtly varied colours coordinating with many different outfits.

Aside from her work outfits though, what is Teresa’s favourite fashion memory? Well, it turns out that she spent her teenage years hanging out at Biba. And, in keeping with her sharp eye for colour and cut – she wore a delicate blue-grey 1940s-inspired Ossie Clark dress for her wedding after-party in 1976. Bought in an Ossie Clark outlet in TopShop’s Oxford Street branch, it wrapped around the body with a tie at the waist, and in characteristic Clark-style, had a scooped out back and soft, billowing sleeves caught into a tight cuff.

Theresa remembers this as the most important outfit of the day – in contrast to her actual wedding dress – this contemporary fashion classic expressed her personality and love of dressing up in the evening – ‘I thought this [dress] was so special. The way it touches you and hangs from the body is so different…just makes you feel different…I suppose it’s all about the cut.’

And it is this appreciation of fabric and fit that informs Teresa’s choices, and shapes her work – and evening – wardrobe.