BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design Lecturer, Sarah Magill, was recently awarded the Association of Dress Historians (ADH) Award for her research based on Women’s Clothing, Manufacture and Design during the Second World War
The Association of Dress Historians is a charity that supports scholarship in dress history by international conferences, prizes, and awards for researchers and the publication of The Journal of Dress History. Founded in 1991, the ADH encourage the start of conversations, exchange of ideas, and promoting new and exciting research in the field, making it accessible to everyone.
Sarah teaches costume interpretation and design on the BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design course. A keen dress-maker and fan of all things vintage, she first explored vintage dressmaking at university, she submitted her article on wartime dress to the ADH after having the opportunity to revisit the subject through her Research at AUB.
“I’d submitted papers for conferences that were based on wartime dress, and I’d also written the book ‘Making Vintage 1940s Clothes for Women’, which was much more of a textbook – so it touched on the contextual history, but didn’t go into technical detail in academic terms. The book was an accessible book for everyone, geared towards dressmakers more than academics.
“So this article was a result of those papers combined, and it all stemmed from my MA back in 2005. So we’re talking about 13 years ago when this obsession with wartime dress began!”
Sarah’s article, entitled Standardised or Simplified? The Effect of Government-Imposed Restrictions on Women’s Clothing Manufacture and Design During the Second World War, was published in The Journal of Dress History on 11 July 2018.
Speaking about the prestigious award, Sarah said:
“My plan was to write an article based on the papers but then I saw the competition, as I’m a member of ADH, so I thought it would be a great opportunity, a) to complete the article, and b) to see what people thought of it, as it’s peer-reviewed.
“I submitted it in October last year, and it felt like such a long time since I heard, I just assumed nothing would come of it. There are processes and a whole journal to put together, so naturally, these things take time.
“Anyway, I got this email one evening from them informing me I was the winner. And I just burst into tears! I couldn’t believe it! Then I read at the end of the email that the ADH Awards Committee includes Aileen Ribeiro, as the Chair – who’s one of the most prestigious Dress Historians on the planet! That’s why I burst into tears – I was thinking, she’s read my article and she’s decided I’m the winner – which is just amazing!
“Also, Tim Long, Curator at The Museum of London, who I met at a conference then went to the Museum with to look at the archives, was also on the panel. I had made a connection with him. It just feels amazing.
“When I was doing my MA I always wanted to publish, but I wasn’t quite ready to, or didn’t have the confidence to. Having the opportunity to develop my research at AUB has been incredible. The time, the money and the support that AUB has given me has enabled me to go back and revisit my passion.”
An extract from Sarah’s abstract, Standardised or Simplified? The Effect of Government-Imposed Restrictions on Women’s Clothing Manufacture and Design During the Second World War:
The Second World War necessitated the transferral of labour and supplies from civilian manufacture to war production. Orders initiated by the government, in an attempt to make economical use of limited resources, severely affected the clothing industry from production to consumption. As a result, many contemporaneous sources and contemporary scholars claim that civilian dress was standardised. Scrutiny of trade journals, government documents, Mass Observation records, extant garments, and sewing patterns demonstrates that though manufacturing methods were standardised and simplified, there continued to be a range of styles in women’s dress.
See The Journal of Dress Historians, and read Sarah’s article here.
Find out more about the BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design course.