Chanel to Westwood: Fashion Innovators of the 20th Century

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
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This fashion history short course will look at the work and design context of twentieth-century fashion designers who have altered the way we think about clothes.

Note: This course is now sold out. To put your name on the waiting list, please email including the course title in your email...

Learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with 12 hours of study over 6 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for 6 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time. Speakers include Chanel Archivist Odile Premel and the V&A's exhibition Curator Oriole Cullen.

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course photo
Portrait of Course Leader Clare Rose

Course Leader
Clare Rose

Clare Rose is a dress historian who investigates the relationship between garments, the documents used to sell them, and images of fashionable people. Trained as a museum curator, she has taught at a number of British universities; she has researched and published the collections of the V&A, and her latest book is ‘Art Nouveau Fashion 1890-1914’.

Thank you for making these courses possible. I love the opportunity to learn with people who are so knowledgeable and interesting. Previous V&A Academy Online Course Attendee

Course overview

This short course will look at the work – and the design context – of twentieth-century fashion designers who have altered the ways that we think about clothes. From Chanel’s adoption of the ease and materials of sportswear for 1920s daily life, through Dior’s reassertion of corseted femininity, to St Laurent’s gender-bending tailoring, Mary Quant’s childlike mini dresses and Cardin’s space age tunics to Westwood and Kawakubo’s use of ‘ugly’ shapes and materials, these designers have challenged our preconceptions about beauty, about gender norms, and about dressing for everyday life. Pairs of lectures will examine designers working at the same time but with very different visions of fashion – Chanel and Schiaparelli, Balenciaga and Dior, Quant and Cardin – and analyse how each responded to their context and positioned themselves in a changing marketplace.  There will be a special emphasis on innovative female designers. A selection of international speakers will contribute their expertise and their research findings, and give insights into the challenges of working with historic fashion. These will include curators responsible for the Chanel and Mary Quant exhibitions.


V&A Academy Online. A learning environment you can trust.

V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion in a secure, closed class environment, wherever you are.

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Online course: Chanel to Westwood: Fashion Innovators of the 20th Century

11 January 2024 - 15 February 2024


Sold out

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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