Chair of Fashion Theory
BSc (Hons) LSE MA (HUJI) PhD (Oxford)
Efrat Tseëlon is a cultural theorist who holds a Chair of Fashion Theory since 2007. She has a BA in social psychology and MA in media and communication (specialising in translation and discourse), industry experience in organisational and marketing consultancy, and a PhD from Oxford in social psychology entitled “Communicating via Clothing” (1989).
Prof Tseëlon’s research interests are in ideological analysis of concrete cultural practices, discourse and material artefacts in the areas of clothing and appearance.
Tseëlon’s work on fashion pioneered a cultural studies paradigm to research on fashion as a combination of clothes, visual appearance, and identities. Her multi-disciplinary multi-method approach focuses on the cultural and symbolic significance of physical appearance (clothes, body and beauty), how this meaning is communicated and how it is experienced.
Tseëlon started her research against the backdrop of fashion research which – up to mid 90s – did not constitute “a discipline” but was scattered in ethnographic, historical or psychological publications, and where empirical work focussed on stereotypical styles (e.g. formal vs. casual; occupational uniforms) and “special occasion dressing”. Her research extended the focus of inquiry from the style of garments to the experience of the wearers on their day to day clothing choices thus laying the ground to “wardrobe research”. Her approach shifted the agenda from “designer costumes” to “everyday dressing”, and extended the scope from “fashion” to “clothing”. She was the first to employ a comparative approach of senders and receivers of sartorial messages.
Her research broke new ground in blending social science and business studies methods and theories with art scholarship ranging from cultural criticism, feminist theory and psychoanalysis. She introduced qualitative and market research approaches (like focus groups, open-ended interviews, and multidimensional scaling) to studies that previously relied on statistical and quantitative inquiry. Her work was innovative in employing ideological critique of visual practices, discourse, and method.
In teaching she advocates inquiry based learning. She trained in Problem Based Learning at the University of Maastricht and introduced it to her former University UCD. This initiative won her the University’s President Award for innovation in teaching.
She is a member of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) at the University of Navarra, and the Social Trends Institute (STI) at the IESE Business School, Barcelona. Her publications include The Masque of Femininity and Masquerade and Identities, and she is the founder and editor of the journal “Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty“.
(2001) Masquerade and identities : essays on gender, sexuality and marginality. Routledge.
(2011) “A critique of the ethical fashion paradigm”, Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty. 2: 03-68.
(2010) “Is identity a useful critical tool?”, Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty. 1.2: 151-159.
(2010) “Outlining a fashion studies project”, Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty. 1.1: 3-52.
(2008) “Making Sense scientific claims in advertising. A study of scientifically aware consumers”, PUBLIC UNDERST SCI. 17.2: 211-230.
(2001) “Fashion research and its discontents”, Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture. 5.4: 435-452.
(2001) “Revisiting the spectatorial gaze in film”, Studies in Symbolic Interaction. 24: 299-319.
(2012) “Fashion, Fantasy and Anxiety”, In: Gonzalez AM (eds.) The emotions and cultural analysis. Ashgate.
(2012) “How successful is communication via clothing? Thoughts and evidence for an unexamined paradigm.”, In: Gonzalez AM; Bovone L (eds.) Identities through fashion: a multidisciplinary approach. Oxford: Berg. 109-137
(2012) “Authenticity”, In: Geczy A; Karaminas V (eds.) Art and Fashion. Oxford: Berg. 111-121
(2010) “Jean Budrillard”, In: The Berg Companion to Fashion. 57-59
(2009) “Problem-based Learning: The perfect tool for a creative curriculum”, In: Parker L (eds.) Sustainable Fashion, a handbook of educators. Bristol: Labour Behind the Label.
(2006) “Not just a historical relic: contemporary debate on school uniform in Europe and the US”, In: Hackspiel-Mikosch E; Haas S (eds.) Civilian uniforms as symbolic communication. Franz Steiner Verlag. 227-241
(2004) “Baudrillard”, In: Steele V (eds.) The Encyclopedia of clothing and Fashion. NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
(2009) Toxic beauty & discourse of health. Cosmetic Cultures: beauty, globalisation, politics, practices
(2009) The fallacy of ethical fashion. Fashions: Business Practices in Historical Perspective
(2009) Is ethical fashion sustainable?. Moda Critica, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
(2004) A Body of Evidence: The Dead Body as a Guarantor of Truth. Proceedings: The Corpse in Contemporary Culture The Corpse in Contemporary Culture.
(2004) Deviant Identities? The Pathologisation of Visible Differences. Proceedings: Visability, Appearance and Embodiement Visability, Appearance and Embodiement.
(2003) Uniformity, Identity and Masquerade. Proceedings: The Beauty of Uniformity The Beauty of Uniformity.
(2002) The Politics of School Uniform. Proceedings: Presented at The Conference on Uniforms, Krefeld Textile Museum Presented at The Conference on Uniforms, Krefeld Textile Museum.