A History of Fashion Photography


Fashion responds to, and contributes towards, cultural and political events, and has attracted the talents of the world's best photographers for nearly as long as the history of photography itself. This lecture series begins with an overview of elegant Victorian portraiture and ends with the dazzling and ambitious photoshoots of today. We will outline how fashion images through the decades connect to art historical movements, exploring the impact of advances in camera technology and the illustrated magazine industry, and the explosion of colour photography in the 1930s and 1940s.

We will examine the fashion trends which emerged from the international centres of couture and design in Europe and America, and the work of designers such as Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Claire McCardell, Mary Quant, Yves Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen. In their interpretations of new styles for the magazine page, photographers have consistently pushed boundaries, and combined their artistic vision with commercial demands. We will learn about the work of some little-known photographers, as well as stars including Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Richard Avedon, Corinne Day, and Tim Walker.

Programme details

Thursdays, 11am–12.30pm (UK time)

For those attending in person at Rewely House, registration takes place at 10.30am before the first lecture (12 January 2023). Tea and coffee is provided in the Common Room before each lecture, from 10.30am.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time. 

Thursday 12 January
Fashionable Flappers and Art Deco Elegance

Thursday 19 January
Surreal Visions

Thursday 26 January
Post-War Revival

Thursday 2 February
Swinging London and a New Generation

Thursday 9 February
Power, Femininity, Diversity

Thursday 16 February
Documents or Dreamscapes


Description Costs
Tuition fee - in-person attendance £130.00
Tuition fee - virtual attendance £130.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses

IT requirements

For those joining us online

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Teams interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.