Who we are

Ben BarryBen Barry is an Assistant Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Director of the Fashion Diversity Lab at the School of Fashion, Ryerson University. His research explores how men experience and enact masculinities through fashion as well as the power of fashion to include and empower diverse men. Based on his past research on women’s responses to diverse models, Ben’s book—Why Women Buy Fashion: Models, Advertising and Aspiration (Bloomsbury Academic)—will be published in April 2015. Ben acts as an expert on diversity in fashion in the media, having been featured in the Wall Street Journal and The Guardian and on CNN and Oprah. He has consulted with the Quebec Government and the UK Government on the development on body image policies and programs. Ben holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Innovation, Strategy and Organization as well as a PhD in Management from the University of Cambridge.

picture for websiteVeronica Carter received her BAH in English from the University of Guelph in 2008, and her MA in Art History from Queen’s University in 2010. She is currently a PhD candidate at Queen’s, where she is working on a thesis project entitled The Fan in French Visual and Material Culture, 1860-1914, under the supervision of Dr. Allison Morehead. Veronica’s primary area of interest is nineteenth-century French art; her research projects focus on intersections of material objects and visual representations, and are driven by questions about gender and the discursive construction of visuality and sensory perception.

Dr. Kathryn Church is Director and Associate Professor in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University. For the past decade, she has been part of key initiatives that have brought the School’s “vision, passion, action” message to life across the university and in the public eye. With her mother as partner, she curated Fabrications: Stitching Ourselves Together, an award-winning exhibit of wedding gowns that made visible the art of domestic dressmaking for museum-goers across Canada. With Drs. Frazee and Panitch, she curated the exhibit titled Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember with installations at the Royal Ontario Museum (2008) and the Cultural Olympiad of the Paralympic Games (2010). Kathryn’s active projects include a study of visitor responses to activist disability history in the museum, and an inquiry into the politics of dress in the lives of women with disabilities. She is the author of Forbidden Narratives: Critical Autobiography as Social Science (1995), and co-editor of Learning through Community: Exploring Participatory Practices (2008). Her publications also include a dozen plain-text documents written for psychiatric survivor-led organizations; she consulted to the documentary film Working Like Crazy and remains instrumental in its international distribution.  She teaches research methods and community organizing, and supervises student projects within the School’s capstone course. She won an Award for Teaching Excellence from the Faculty of Community Service in 2006.

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Illustration by Lena Suksi (click image to see artist’s website)

Jenna Danchuk is a writer, researcher, and thrift-store fanatic based in Toronto, Canada. She is a current PHD student in the Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies Department at York University. Her academic work is concerned with the politics of cultural production, and queer and feminist approaches to art, culture, fashion, and style. She is the Research Editor and a regular contributor at WORN Fashion Journal, an independently published fashion magazine. http://jennadanchuk.tumblr.com/

website picAlison Matthews David is an Assistant Professor in the School of Fashion, Ryerson University. She received her doctorate from Stanford University in 2002 for a thesis on tailoring in nineteenth-century Paris.

Dr. Matthews David’s research deals with material culture, medical humanities, class and gender. She has published in a variety of journals and books, including Fashion Theory, The Journal of Victorian Literature and Culture and Shoes: From Sandals to Sneakers. Her publications include pieces on WWI camouflage and fashion, synthetic dyes and the British aesthetic movement, Victorian riding habits and the fashionable horsewoman, tailoring and the standardized male body, mercury poisoning and ‘Mad’ Hatters, military uniforms and footwear and the founding of Vogue magazine in Gilded Age America. In 2004 she was a Veronika Gervers Fellow in Costume and Textile History at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. In 2010 she was awarded a Standard Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada for her book project Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present (Bloomsbury, September 2015.) The book examines the intersections between dress and medical histories and explores the theme of clothing causing bodily harm to both its makers and wearers by leaching chemical toxins, transmitting contagious disease, and causing accidents, including fire and entanglement. She is currently co-curating an exhibition with Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum. The exhibit, entitled Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of 19th Century Dress, opens in Spring 2014 and will be up until 2016.

1383294_10151876947397114_136569522_nThea Fitz-James is one part academic, one part journalist, and one part theatre maker. She has two undergraduate degrees from McGill and University of King’s College in English (drama/theatre) and Journalism, respectively. She recently graduated from the Theatre and Performance Studies MA at York University, where she became interested in explicit body art and the performance of textiles. She is an emerging performance artist interested in exploring textile and the naked body on stage. She currently works as a research assistant in the Theatre and Performance Studies department at York.

KathrynFashiongroupKathryn Franklin is a PhD candidate in the Humanities at York University. Her research focuses on representations of glamour and fashion in cities. Her work has been featured in World Film Locations: Berlin (2012) and The Journal of Curatorial Studies (2013). She is a co-editor at Descant Magazine and is guest editing its forthcoming issue on Berlin (2014)



IMG_8120_cropRebecca Halliday is a PhD student in the Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture at York and Ryerson Universities. She holds an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies from York and a BA Honors in Drama and Creative Writing from the University of Alberta. Becky’s dissertation research combines fashion, performance, communication and cultural studies to examine the mediation of the live fashion show as a microcosm of online media’s impact on the fashion industry and in broader consumer culture. She has also done research and presented papers on Coco Chanel, Tom Ford, fashion’s intersections with hip-hop culture, Maison Martin Margiela’s fast fashion collaboration with H&M, and the transmission of affect in fashion show photographs on social media.

si_urbanchic_bwSusan Ingram is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at York University, where she is affiliated with the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies and the Research Group on Translation and Transcultural Contact. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at York University, where she is affiliated with the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies and the Research Group on Translation and Transcultural Contact. She is the general editor of Intellect’s Urban Chic series. Her research interests revolve around the institutions of cultural modernity. For more, check out her website.

2011_10_26Charlene K. Lau is a Ph.D. Candidate in Art History and Visual Culture at York University. Her current research is supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and examines the contemporary avant-garde fashion practice of Bernhard Willhelm. Charlene’s writing has appeared in C MagazineCanadian ArtFashion TheoryThe Journal of Curatorial Studies and PUBLIC. She has worked nationally and internationally with artists such as David Claerbout (Antwerp, Belgium), and arts institutions including the Canadian Art Foundation, Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Textile Museum of Canada, White Cube (London, UK), and V tape. Charlene received a Master of Arts in the History and Culture of Fashion from the London College of Fashion, University of Arts London (UK) and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Toronto.

Alanna McKnight headshotAlanna McKnight began her studies in fashion history at Dalhousie’s Costume Studies program in 2001.  Upon completion she had a brief career in theatre costuming, making historic reproductions and sewing for a goth clothing shop in Toronto.  In 2006 she returned to academia to pursue an honours BA in History at York, with a focus on the industrial revolution and textile production, and 19th century Canadian history.  This became a Masters in history at York which culminated in a thesis called “Tentering Trade: Women in Toronto’s Needle trades, 1834-1860”.  In the year between her MA and PhD, she completed an Archival Management certificate at George Brown College.  Alanna is now pursuing a PhD in Communications and Culture at Ryerson, with a proposed dissertation about female economy and agency in Toronto’s corset manufacturing.

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Photo credit: George Whiteside

Alexandra Palmer (PhD) is the Nora E. Vaughan Senior Curator, Textiles & Fashions at the Royal Ontario Museum where she is responsible for the collection of western fashionable dress and textiles. She teaches fashion and textile history in Fine Art department at the University of Toronto. Her research interests span the 18th century to the present day with particular emphasis on haute couture, Canadian fashion and the second hand trade. Her book Couture & Commerce: The Transatlantic Fashion Trade in the 1950s (2001) won a Clio Award for Ontario history, and her most recent book, Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise 1947 – 57, V&A Publications (2009) won the 2010 Millia Davenport Publication Award. Her current project, Recuperating Fashion 1700-2000, is funded by the Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is Exhibitions Editor for Fashion Theory, The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture and on the advisory board of the journal Luxury: History, Culture Consumption.

Markus Reisenleitner (PhD, University of Vienna) is the Director of the Graduate Program in Humanities at York University and the co-ordinator of the Department of Humanities’ European Studies program. He is also affiliated with the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture, and the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies. Before joining York’s Division of Humanities in 2006, he taught at the University of Vienna, the Vienna campus of the University of Oregon’s International Program, the University of Alberta, and Lingnan University in Hong Kong, where he was Head of the Department of Cultural Studies from 2004-2006. Markus Reisenleitner is a research associate of Hong Kong’s Kwan Fong Cultural Research and Development Programme in Hong Kong and the President of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association. His current research focuses on digital humanities, e-learning, urban imaginaries, and the role of location in fashion and style cultures.

 MarlisSchweitzer1_2013Marlis Schweitzer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at York University. She is the author of When Broadway Was the Runway: Theater, Fashion, and American Culture and has published chapters and articles on fashion in Staging Fashion, 1880-1920: Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke  (2012)Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, Consumers (2008), Theatre Survey, and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. She is completing a manuscript on the globalization of American theatre at the turn of the twentieth century and is beginning a new SSHRC-funded project on mid-nineteenth century child performers. Marlis is the General Editor of TheatreResearch in Canada/ Recherches théâtrales au Canada.

Elizabeth Semmelhack has been the Senior Curator of the Bata Shoe Museum since 2000 and her work focuses on the construction of gender in relation to dress with a particular interest in the history of elevating footwear.  Most recently she has curated Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture (2013), Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection (2012), The Roaring Twenties: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits (2011) and On a Pedestal: Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels (2009). Upcoming publications include “Above the Rest: Chopines as Trans-Mediterranean Fashion” in the Spanish Journal of Cultural Studies (2014) and “Reveal and Conceal: Chopines and the Display of Material Wealth in Early Modern Valencia and Venice” in The Matter of Art: Materials, Technologies, Meanings, c. 1250-1650, ed. Christine Anderson, Anne Dunlop, and Pamela Smith (Manchester University Press: 2014). Her book Shoe will be published by Reaktion Press, London in 2015.   Semmelhack is currently working on the exhibition Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th century with co-curator Dr. Alison Matthews David. The exhibition is part of Dr. Matthews David’s SSHRC funded research project Fashion Victims: Clothing and Health in Historical Perspective on which Semmelhack is a co-investigator.


Kimberly Wahl is an Associate Professor in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University.  She holds a PhD in Art History from Queen’s University, where her dissertation focused on late nineteenth-century Aesthetic Dress in the context of British visual culture and Aestheticism.  Her first book Dressed as in a Painting: Women and British Aestheticism in an age of Reform was published by the University of New Hampshire in July, 2013.  Current research focuses on the intersections between academic Feminism and the histories and theories of fashion, from the late nineteenth century to the present.  In support of this research, she was recently awarded a SSHRC Insight Development grant for her project Fashioning Feminism: Women, Clothing, Art and Power in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century British Culture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANathaniel Weiner is a PhD candidate in York University and Ryerson University’s joint PhD program in Communication and Culture. He holds an MA in Media and Communication from Goldsmiths. His research interests include subculture, fashion, consumption, masculinity, and British social realist drama. He is currently researching men’s online fashion culture.