Academic Research: Lorraine H Smith
I have been fascinated by fashion and clothing since childhood and now have two fashion-related degrees: BSc Textile Design and Design Management, from the University of Manchester; and MA History and Culture of Fashion, from London College of Fashion, UAL. My primary area of research interest is twentieth century underwear and developments in textiles.
My Master’s dissertation looked at the history of the bra – the garments I purchased to help with this research were donated to the London College of Fashion Archives and two of the pieces were loaned to the V&A for their exhibition Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear. I have presented my research at a number of academic conferences and as part of public programmes at the M&S Company Archive and the Victoria and Albert Museum. I have also spoken about the history of the bra on Helen Zaltzman’s podcast The Allusionist and in this video, recorded for The Pool.
Fashion // Intersections
Whilst studying MA History and Culture of Fashion (now MA Fashion Cultures) at London College of Fashion, I met a wonderful group of women who I went on to organise an academic conference with. We noticed how conferences didn’t always cover the types of topics we were interested in, so we set out to create our own… with no funding! FASHION // INTERSECTIONS: Bodies, Cultures, Spaces took place on Friday 15th July 2016 in central London, with 12 speakers and a panel discussion, exploring “fashion’s intersections, interstices, overlaps, compatibilities and incompatibilities with other disciplines”.
I am a founder member of the team behind online resource The Underpinnings Museum, which was set up in 2016 (following a successful crowdfunding campaign) in order to bring the history of underwear to a wider audience, making collections and research freely accessible online. My role predominantly involves undertaking additional object research for the collection’s objects, but I have also written several blog posts for the site and, before we recruited a Social Media Coordinator, was responsible for the museum’s Twitter account. In 2017 I organised the museum’s inaugural event, with guest speakers and a small display of objects from the collection, and I curated an exhibition on technology and the bra, based on my Master’s research. In 2018 I organised a Twitter conference to share underwear-related academic research with a global audience.