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Dr Christine Boydell

Job: Subject Leader, Critical & Contextual Studies

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Research group(s): Design Group

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 2078429




Personal profile

Dr Christine Boydell is a Design Historian who specialises in the history of dress and textiles. Dr Boydell gained her PhD in 1992 for the study of the American freelance textile designer Marion Dorn. In 1996 her book The Architect of Floors: modernism, art and Marion Dorn designs was published. Christine has written widely on fashion and textile history and co-edited with Schoeser a collection of essays Disentangling Textiles' in 2003.  Horrockses Fashions'; Off-the-Peg style in the ‘40s and ‘50s was published by V&A Publishing in 2010 to coincide with an exhibition she curated at the Fashion & Textile Museum, London.  Christine is book reviews’ editor for the journal of the Pasold Research Fund Textile History.  Future projects include the curation of an exhibition on swimwear and resort wear and a book on the textile designer Pat Albeck.

Publications and outputs

  • Horrockses Fashions: Off the Peg Style in the ‘40s and ‘50s
    Horrockses Fashions: Off the Peg Style in the ‘40s and ‘50s Boydell, C. E.
  • Horrockses Fashions and cotton ready-to-wear in the 1940s and ‘50s
    Horrockses Fashions and cotton ready-to-wear in the 1940s and ‘50s Boydell, C. E.
  • Disentangling textiles: techniques for the study of designed objects (with authored chapter Textiles in the modern home pp 81-94)
    Disentangling textiles: techniques for the study of designed objects (with authored chapter Textiles in the modern home pp 81-94) Boydell, C. E.; Schoeser, M. This volume is a unique collection of essays by experts from museums and universities which for the first time deals with a variety of new theoretical approaches to the study of textiles. It brings together newly published archival and theoretical research from authors from the UK and the US and opens up textiles to the scrutiny of a number of disciplines, (e.g. economic and social history, oral history, psychoanalysis, architecture, womens’ studies, museology) in an international context. Described by Turney in 'Textile History' (36[1] May 2005) as "an extremely innovative and inclusive text" Reviewed by Clare Taylor in 'Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture' (vol 3 Issue 2 summer 2005) and described as a "stimulating volume… (that) should encourage a more reflexive viewpoint". Reviewed by Philip Sykas in 'Text' vol33 2005-6 "all the essays stimulate the reader to examine his/her own assumptions about textile history, and encourage the validation of a wider range of approaches". This self-authored chapter argues for the significance of textiles within modernism, a subject largely ignored by academics. Based on original research which informed the author’s exhibition ‘Architect of Floors’, devoted to the work of Marion Dorn, the essay argues for the importance of textiles in the Modernist interior. The original research was carried out using various company archives, including the Heals Archive at the National Archive of Art & Design, Warner & Sons company archive; Sandersons company archive, and the Donald Brothers archive at the Scottish College of Textiles.
  • Fashioning identities: gender, class and the self
    Fashioning identities: gender, class and the self Boydell, C. E. This article focused on four publications from Berg’s ‘Dress, Body and Culture’ series. It situates these publications within the context of the development of dress and fashion studies and acknowledges dress and adornment as universal practices which aid our understanding of our individual and collective attempts to express identities. This article utilises a discussion and analysis of these publications to reflect on the current state of fashion theory and research. Drawing on the writer’s own extensive knowledge of fashion history and theory, the essay intervened in debates about fashion and identity and argued that studies of fashion have come of age. Researchers in fashion history and theory display rigorous methods and creative interdisciplinary theories and methods of study, and should stop apologising for their focus on the supposedly “frivolous” field of fashion studies. This should now be accepted as a valid area of serious academic study.
  • Best of British
    Best of British Boydell, C. E. A study of fabric design for the fashion industry in the post-war period. To date this has been a much neglected area of design and textile history, in comparison to recent developments in fashion history and theory. The article is based on original research on the archives of the firm “Horrockses Fashions” and is an exemplary investigation of the relationship between archives, textiles, design processes, and social/historical context which can serve as a starting point for future researchers working on similar archival sources. Business records, fabric design and the fabrics themselves were studied.
  • Pat Albeck: Textile designs for Horrockses fashion 1953-58
    Pat Albeck: Textile designs for Horrockses fashion 1953-58 Boydell, C. E. The only study of Pat Albeck to date. A rare example of textile research that examines the role of fabric design for the fashion industry. The article is based on several interviews completed with the designer and examines the experience of working for a major ready-to-wear label
  • Our best dresses: the story of Horrockses fashions limited  
    Our best dresses: the story of Horrockses fashions limited   Boydell, C. E. The exhibition focused on ready-to-wear fashion in the post-war period. It was original in that it linked the design, production, retail, distribution and consumption of these popular fashions. This develops Entwistle’s view that "a sociological account of fashion and dress must acknowledge the connections between production and consumption, considering the relationship between different agencies, institutions, individuals and practices" ('The Fashioned Body', Polity Press 2000 p.3) Methodologically it drew on primary archive material, including unpublished business records. Eg. Horrockses, various archives of designers preserved in the National Archive of Art and Design, (Victoria and Albert Museum), textile collections and records in Abbot Hall Museum and Art Gallery, Kendal, and interviews with the designer Pat Albeck. I also used oral history as a means of understanding what these clothes meant to the women that purchased them, or copied them. The exhibition endeavoured to look at the clothing choices of ordinary women, in contrast to the majority of exhibitions that deal with elite and haute couture clothing. Organised in collaboration with the staff of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston. Boydell acted as the curator, sourcing the exhibits, writing the text panels and labels as well as the accompanying pamphlet. Funding was applied for collaboratively (a Textile Society Museum Award in was gained in 2000 (£1000) and also from the National Arts Collection Fund (£4190), V&A Purchase Fund (£7380) and the Friends of the Harris Museum (£3000) for money to purchase a number of important pieces that were loaned to the exhibition, and which are now in the permanent collection). Invited by the following organisations to lecture Textile Society seminar – 2/3/2002 (attendance 40) Public lecture on Horrockses – Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall Manchester – 25/4/2001 (attendance 20) Costume & Textile Society of Wales, National Museum of Wales, 9/2/2002 (attendance 30)
  • Architect of Floors: Modernism, Art and Marion Dorn Designs
    Architect of Floors: Modernism, Art and Marion Dorn Designs Boydell, C. E.


Click here for a full listing of Christine Boydell's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Boydell, C (2010) Horrockses Fashions: Off the Peg Style in the ‘40s and ‘50s, V&A Publications 

Schoeser, M & Boydell, C (eds) (2003) Disentangling Textiles: Techniques for the Study of Design Objects, Middlesex University Press

Boydell, C (1996) The Architect of Floors: Modernism, Art & Marion Dorn Designs, Schoeser, Essex

Boydell, C (2010) ‘Horrockses Fashions and cotton ready-to-wear in the 1940s and ‘50s’, Journal of the Decorative Arts Society, 33: 8-25

Boydell, C (2004) ‘Fashioning Identities: Gender, Class & the Self’, Journal of Contemporary History, 39 (1): 137-146 (review article)

Research interests/expertise

  • History of Twentieth Century Fashion
  • Ready-to-wear fashion
  • Art Deco textiles
  • Post-war design
  • Gender and design
  • Post-war textile design

Areas of teaching

  • Design History
  • Fashion History
  • Textile Design History


  • PhD (CNAA) ‘Marion Dorn: A Study of the Working Methods of the Female Professional Textile Designer in the 1920s and 1930s’, University of Huddersfield, 1992
  • Post Grad Diploma, History of Art and Design, Birmingham Polytechnic, 1982
  • BA (Hons) History of Design (2:1), Manchester Polytechnic, 1981

Courses taught

  • Fashion Design BA (Hons)
  • Textile Design BA (Hons)
  • Fashion Textiles and Accessories BA (Hons)
  • Fashion and Bodywear MA

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Textile Society (executive committee member 1982-7, 1992-2000; hon sec 1993-6; co-editor of Society’s journal Text 1996-2000
  • Design History Society (executive committee member 1987-90)
  • Attingham Society Scholarship Committee Member (1990-4)

Conference attendance

Boydell, C (2012) ‘Reading swimwear in the trade press: a case study of Corsetry & Underwear’, The Natural Body Research Seminar, International Centre for Sports History & Culture, De Montfort University

Boydell, C (2011) ‘The Housecoat: discourses in femininity & domesticity in mid-century Britain’, Developments in Dress History Conference, University of Brighton

Boydell, C (2009) ‘Horrockses Fashions and cotton ready-to-wear 1946-1960’ Ars Textrina International Textiles Conference – Natural Fibres: A World Heritage, University of Leeds

Boydell, C (2001) ‘Marion Dorn’, designers at work’, The Process and Practice of Design Conference, Museum of Domestic Architecture, Middlesex University

Boydell, C (1998) ‘Branded Goods and the Post-War Fashion Industry: a case study of Horrockses Fashion Limited’, Design History Society Conference, University of Huddersfield

Boydell, C (1996) ‘Carpets & Clients’, Royal Institute of British Architects, Heinz Gallery, London.

Boydell, C (1996) ‘Marion Dorn textile designer for the modern home’ Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York.

Boydell, C (1996) ‘Freelance textile designers in the 1930s’, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.

Boydell, C (1995) ‘Marion Dorn as a professional textile designer’, National Portrait Gallery, London

Consultancy work

Textile design history, use of historic archives in contemporary products.  Historical advisor to Brookmann Home


Current research students

  • Part-time PhD – Emma Ronald (first supervisor) ‘Patterns of Identity: block printed and resist-dyed textiles of rural Rhajistan’
  • Part-time PhD – Deborah Jewison (second supervisor) ‘Furniture design education in England from 1926 onwards’ (second supervisor)
  • Part-time PhD – Joanne Horton (second supervisor) ‘An investigation into the potential of electro-forming for the purpose of embroidery and embellishment in the context of wearable textiles’ 
  • Part-tine PhD – Claire Lerpiniere (second supervisor) ‘The Textile Archive: curating personal histories and family narratives’

Internally funded research project information

‘The Natural Body: Movement, Dress and Physical Culture’, DMU RIF. Sept 2011-Aug 2012. Team member. Jean Williams, Tess Buckland

Professional esteem indicators

Textile Society’s journal Text 1996-2000 co-editor

Pasold Research Fund Textile History, Aug 2012 to date, book reviews editor

Case studies

Horrockses Fashion: Off-the-Peg Style in the 40s and 50s, V&A Publishing, 2010

Book sales to date – 4800


Audas, J in Selvedge Sept/Oct 2010

Eck, C in Textile History (forthcoming)

Jackson, L in Crafts July/August  2010

Turney, J in Journal of Design History, (2012) 25 (1): 109-111. 

Kinchin, P. (Winter 2010) DAS Newsletter

Horrockses Fashion: Off-the-Peg Style in the 40s and 50s exhibition at Fashion & Textile Museum, London July-Oct 2010

Exhibition visitors 11,000

A short film to accompany the show was produced which was shown at FTM and posted on Youtube (3,000 hits).

Exhibition has toured to: Basildon Park, National Trust April 2011-Oct 2011 (45,000 visitors) so successful its run was extended); National Museums Scotland, Shambellie House March 2012-October 2012

Features on Horrockses book/exhibition:

Saga Magazine (May 2010)

Stella (Supplement to the Sunday Telegraph (18 June 2010), 

Leicestershire Life June 2011, 

V&A Magazine (Summer 2010), 

BBC News (Magazine) website. Lancashire Life’s  July 2010

Lancashire Evening Post (28/6/10)

Oldham Evening Chronicle (21/6/10). 

Interviewed with Boydell onWoman’s Hour (BBC) on 28 April 2010 (and again on Weekend Woman’s Hour 1.5.10). 

Christine Boydell