Programme: History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research

Start date: September 2014

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Displaying Fashion History. The Linear, Open, Virtual, and Absent Museum

Alessandro Bucci is a doctoral researcher and a tutor in History of Art and Design. In the school of Design he is thesis supervisor for students working with fashion theory, fashion history, and fashion curating.  His research project, supervised by Professor Christopher Breward and Professor Mark Dorrian, looks at fashion heritage institutions and the historiographical models informing their strategies of display. It thus positions itself at the crossroads between fashion curating, fashion history, historiography and curatorial studies. His research is also developed through fieldworks at the V&A (London), MUDE (Lisbon), and MoMu (Antwerp). His work has been presented in papers in conferences in Edinburgh, Oxford, Venice, Rio de Janeiro, São Paolo, and Stockholm.

Alessandro co-convened a panel for the AAH 2016 national conference, which was held in Edinburgh. The proceedings of the conference - investigating the status of fashion studies as an academic subject with an international perspective - have been the basis for a special issue of the International Journal of Fashion Studies. 

Before starting his PhD, Alessandro has gained a MA in Fashion Studies from the Centre for Fashion Studies at the University of Stockholm and a MA in English and Russian from the University of Bari, and he has worked as a high school teacher in Manchester for two years. He has curated exhibitions of fashion photography in the UK and in Italy and has co-founded C-41, a magazine of contemporary photography.

​History of Art 2 (2015- 2016)

History of Art 2 (2016 - 2017)

Design & Screen Cultures 1 (2017 - 2018)

Design Context 4 (2015 - 2016)

Design Context 4 (2016 - 2017)

Design Context 4 (2017 - 2018)

MA/MFA1 "Disseminating Design Cultures" (2015-2016)​


Thesis abstract:

Alessandro Bucci's doctoral project engages with historical and critical debates surrounding the presence of fashion exhibitions in the museum. In particular, it problematises the issue of the temporal distance between artefacts and audiences, looking closely at display modalities that challenge the trajectories of traditional chronology and periodisation. The aim is to offer a critical insight into how audiences relate to presentations of fashion’s past – remote or proximate.

It does so by taking as its case studies selected exhibition formats developed by the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Museu Do Design e da Moda (Lisbon), Mode Museum (Antwerp), and Pitti Immagine & Fondazione Pitti Discovery (Florence). By observing the material features of their unique presentation modalities, Bucci's research characterises them as sites of knowledge production, with the ability to trigger interaction with their content. From this perspective, these formats are viewed as shaping visitor experiences by recalling and connoting prior modalities through which artefacts/texts have been apprehended and consumed outside the context of the fashion exhibition. At the same time, an understanding of the specific ways of relating fragments and whole that underpin these topological structures becomes key to identifying how pre-formed and pre-individual experiences of narrative progression, temporality, and historical awareness resurface in the context of the museum. In other words, this thesis suggests that different presentation modalities correspond to different ways of interrogating and constructing fashion’s past.

Integrating interviews and accounts of research trips to the case study institutions, this project draws upon a wide range of sources. In doing so, it situates cultural heritage institutions’ strategies of display in the context of a ‘curatorial turn’ that has consolidated debates in curating art, the new museology, and key epistemological shifts in fashion history and theory, while also opening interdisciplinary avenues for the study of the historiography of fashion, exhibition-making and audience engagement. However, rather than focusing solely on curators’ intentions, emphasis is placed on audiences and their ability to discover network of correspondences beyond those identified by curators. This perspective acknowledges curators’ and audiences’ situatedness within a wide visual and media culture that exceeds museological conventions. 

In turn, the analysis develops considerations of the museum itself, utilising the thesis’ chapters also to build on the existing literature that has portrayed it as an institution invested in addressing conditions of cultural and temporal distance between artefacts and visitors. And thus while, on the one hand, the museum emerges as a strategic site for rethinking the history of fashion and its representations, on the other, presentations of fashion in the museum are seen as privileged contexts for the realisation of a contemporary form of museology – a practice where processes of knowledge production are enacted through complex historical layering, negotiation with the world outside its premises, and constant redefinitions of canons.




Bucci, A.; Downing Peters L.; Faggella, C.; Pecorari, M.; eds. (2018), 'The State of Fashion Studies', The International Journal of Fashion Studies, Intellect.

Bucci, A., Faggella, C. (2018). 'Parallel Universes: fashion studies education today', The International Journal of Fashion Studies, 5.1

Bucci, A. (2017); "Black Duck Feathers' or Becoming-perfect", The Journal of Fashion, Style, and Popular Culture, 4-3.

Bucci, A. (2017), "MUDE, Lisboa: explorações históricas únicas e múltiplas", Dobra[s], 10-21.

Bucci, A. (2016) ‘Un museo work in progress per la città di Lisbona’ – Vaccari A. ed. (2016) Moda, Città, Immaginari, Mimesis and Università di Venezia: Milan and Venice.

Bucci, A. (2016) 'Vogue 100: A Century of Style' (exhibition review) Fashion Studies Journal, 1-1.

Bucci, A. (2014); "Maps of the South Pacific: How Britain 'invented' Australia", JOMEC Journal, 6, Cardiff University Press.