Fashion and Diplomacy

This two-day online public workshop focuses on diplomacy and the influence of fashion. It seeks to open a discussion at the crossroads of history, diplomacy, and fashion studies.

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Photo: iStock


This workshop is free and open for all but requires registration.

Registration for December 2

Registration for December 3

Workshop Program

All times are Central European Time (CET). The workshop's start and end time are converted as such: 

  • Eastern Standard Time (EST): 7:00 to 12:00
  • Greenwich Mean Time (GMT): 12:00 to 17:00

Click here to access the participants' short biographies.

Thursday December 2nd

Vincent Dubé-Senécal (MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow, Universitetet i Oslo) 
Welcoming with Madeleine Goubau.
Presentation of the MSCA project FASHION IN IR: The Dematerialization of Fashion and France’s Couture Propaganda during the 1960s and 1970s


Hannah Morelle (Archives and Heritage Officer, Fondation Azzedine Alaïa) “A Century of Political Rivalry Through the Prism of Fashion: The Relationship Between France and England from 18th to 19th Century”


Chloé Rivière (PhD Student, Université d’Orléans)
“Grasp the Invisible. Fashion and Diplomacy in the Seventeenth Century: Texts’ Silence and Systematic Recording”

14.30-15.00 Break

Natalie Nudell (Adjunct Assistant Professor, History of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY)
“Fashion for Freedom? The Fashion Show, Politics and Diplomacy in Ruth Finley’s Fashion Calendar”


Charlotte Faucher (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Manchester)
“Fashion and the Emergence of French Cultural Diplomacy in Anglophone Contexts, 1870-1945”

16.00-16.30 Break

Valerie Steele (Director and Chief Curator of the Museum, Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY)

Keynote presentation: “The Geography of Fashion”

17.30-18.00 Questions from the audience, closing.
Friday December 3rd

Cynthia Cooper (Head of Collections and Research and Curator of Dress, Fashion and Textiles, McCord Museum)
“Fashioning Nation: Expo 67 Hostesses”


Madeleine Goubau (PhD Student, Université du Québec à Montréal) “Conceptualizing Dress as a Tool for Public Diplomacy from a Communicational Perspective”


Short Break


Roundtable Hosted by Madeleine Goubau:  “Future Perspectives for the Study of Fashion and Diplomacy”

Discussion Opened to the Audience

15.00-15.30 Sarah Fee (Senior Curator, Global Fashion & Textiles, Royal Ontario Museum)
“Weaving a Diplomatic Web: Silk Mantles from Madagascar”

Marie-Laure Archambault-Küch (PhD Student, Université Lumière Lyon 2)
“An Attire for a Nation: The Hejazi, Syrian and Lebanese Delegations’ Sartorial Strategies at the Paris Peace Conference (1919)”

16.00-16.30 Break

Andreas Behnke (Associate Professor, International Political Theory, University of Reading)

Keynote presentation: “Fashion Diplomacy as Symbolic Acclamation”

17.30-18.00 Questions from the audience, closing.

The role of fashion in the interactions between nations is dealt with occasionally in the corpus of different academic fields.

Although these studies relate to fashion and diplomacy as a common general theme, their respective discipline-based methodological and conceptual frameworks make it harder for researchers to share knowledge and legitimize such a rich subject of study.

For this reason, this workshop seeks to initiate a discussion between researchers from various backgrounds such as history, communication, international relations, fashion studies, et cetera, to offer a platform to share the various methodological approaches exploring fashion and diplomacy.

In the context of this workshop, these two terms are defined broadly in order for them to be used as inclusive beacons around which all approaches can converge.

Defining the Notions of Fashion and Diplomacy

In line with the contributions of fashion studies, fashion is construed as both a material object – be it garments, accessories, jewellery, shoes, et cetera – and a sophisticated and universal sociocultural practice. It is also an industry ranging from raw materials to the finished product, which includes objects, experiences, images, and texts.

Fashion is therefore an object of study that is all together material, human and intangible.

Likewise, the notion of diplomacy encompasses all its variations: traditional, cultural, commercial, public, etc. This opens the door to related concepts such as “propaganda,” “place branding,” or “soft power.”

Aims of this Workshop

The workshop aims to present a framework for the analysis of fashion as a diplomatic tool for the state to gain commercial footholds abroad or sway public opinion at large beyond traditional diplomatic relations.

Papers will discuss the methodological relevance of the diplomatic perspective of international relations in the understanding of global phenomena that can serve national interests even if they do not emanate from international actors.

Papers will also question the nature of fashion’s influence to bridge the gap between past and present.

Indeed, with the dematerialization of fashion of the 1960s – through the booming of licenses and branding that lead to greater dissemination of fashion images favoured by the advent of mass media – fashion’s influence evolved accordingly.

That is why this workshop includes researchers beyond the field of history to integrate perspectives that observe the influence of fashion to this day.

This is meant to foster a transdisciplinary medium to discuss methodological tools to better reflect fashion and its influence through time.

About the Research Project

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie project “FASHION IN IR: The Dematerialization of Fashion and France’s Couture Propaganda during the 1960s and 1970s” aims to study the role of French women’s sartorial fashion in France’s international relations during the 1960s and 1970s. This approach is meant to open the fields of fashion history and the history of international relations to each other.

This project brings the political perspective of international relations as a new approach to the study of the fashion industry to understand why a program of aid to couture was renewed at the end of the 1960s when women’s sartorial fashion had evolved to favor ready-made garments.

This is done by integrating the interest of states to the analysis of the multilayered influence of immaterial and material cultural products of the creative industries.

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This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 886026.

Published Sep. 3, 2021 2:41 PM - Last modified Nov. 1, 2021 2:37 PM