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Helen Margaret Walter

PhD Work

Supervisor: Dr Christine Guth


  • PhD


    School of Humanities


    History of Design, 2009–2015

  • With a background working in theatrical wardrobe departments, I returned to academia to study the history of dress in 2009. Although I have a general background and interest in fashion and dress throughout the modern period, and have taught in a number of different areas, my own research focuses primarily on the nineteenth century and the intersection of dress, the body, and performance in the construction of identity. My PhD research centred around images of six West End Actor-Managers in the last thirty years of the nineteenth century, looking at the way they manipulated their appearance, and engaged with processes of bodily design and dress, to establish for themselves legitimate artistic and social identities in late-Victorian London.

  • Degrees

  • MA History of Dress, Courtauld Institute of Art, 2009; BA (Hons) Classics, University of Cambridge, 2006
  • Experience

  • Lecturer, Contextual Studies, University for the Creative Arts, Epsom, 2009-2011; Wardrobe supervisor/wardrobe mistress, Various Theatrical Companies, 2006–9
  • Exhibitions

  • Passion for Pattern, Blandford Fashion Museum, Blandford Forum, 2013–15
  • Conferences

  • ‘Balancing Artists and Professionals: Photographs of actors in The Theatre, 1880-1890’, Fashioning Professionals, Symposium on the historical and contemporary representation of cultural and creative professions, V&A, 2015.; 'Artist, Professional, Gentleman: The actor's offstage portrait (1875- 1900)', Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, University of Reading, 2013; ‘Whose costume is it anyway? Studying historic stage dress’, Relays and Responses: Dress Histories in the Round, Association of Dress Historians Conference, Art Workers’ Guild, 2012; Staging Difference: Orientalising Othello in Late Victorian Theatre, East Meets West, ICOM Costume Committee Annual Meeting, Belgrade, 2011; ‘“Putting Himself Off With His Clothes”: Dress and the body of the actor’, Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues, Conference, Oriel College, Oxford, 2010
  • Publications

  • '"Van Dyck in Action”: Dressing Charles I for the Victorian Stage’, Costume, 47, 2013, 161–179; ‘Cartes de visite: dress and male self-fashioning in late nineteenth-century photography’, Endymatologica, 2010