Christopher trained as an art historian at the Courtauld Institute before completing postgraduate studies as a student on the Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum programme in the history of design. He has held lecturer posts at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Royal College of Art and London College of Fashion and was previously Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Christopher was appointed to the role of Principal of Edinburgh College of Art in 2011 when the Schools of Art and Design at the former Edinburgh College of Art merged with the School of Arts, Culture and Environment at the University of Edinburgh. He is also Vice Principal for the Creative Industries and Performing Arts at the University of Edinburgh. Christopher has published and curated widely on the histories of fashion, masculinities and urban cultures. He is a Trustee of the National Museums of Scotland, Fruitmarket Gallery and Hospitalfield Arts, a Governor of the Pasold Institute and a member of the Advisory Board for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. He was a panel member (34) for REF 2014. In November 2017 he took up the new role of Director of Collection and Research at the National Galleries of Scotland, retaining a role as a Visiting Professor at Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh.
Christopher contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at Edinburgh College of Art. He devised and delivered the course 'Music, Style, Identity and Image in the Modern Age' (Best Course, EUSA Teaching Awards 2016/17) and was instrumental in the introduction of the new MSc by Research 'Collections and Curating Practices.'
Christopher has made a major contribution to the development of fashion history in the UK and beyond over the past three decades, but is also interested in the ways that questions of style, identity and visual and material cultures operate across diverse disciplines. He is currently editing a collection of essays on fashion cultures in Shanghai, arising from a three year project funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education in partnership with Shanghai College of Fashion at Donghua University, Edinburgh College of Art and London College of Fashion.