Who got that job?

June 30, 2006

Reina Lewis

Centenary chair, London College of Fashion

Job advertised in The Times Higher, December 9, 2005

Reina Lewis jokes that, with her passion for clothes and an office near the shops in Oxford Street, her new workplace at the London College of Fashion should have come with acres of built-in wardrobes.

"This job was too good to miss," said Professor Lewis, appointed Centenary chair by the college, which this year celebrates its first 100 years.

"I'm a bit of a maverick, so I'm glad they chose me," she said. "The college really is an excellent place, with a huge reputation for disseminating work imaginatively and inventively though exhibitions, radio and television. Plus it has such strong links with industry and retail.

"Do you know the best bit? I'm going to have an office near Oxford Circus, so I shall be mainly in the shops."

Costume and identity have always been deeply embedded in Professor Lewis's research interests - which range from 19th-century orientalism and feminist post-colonial theory to cross-cultural dressing and gay cultural studies.

A major project for the next few years is to address contemporary issues of Middle-Eastern dress for women under the working title "Shopping, fashion and veils".

She said: "For example, I want to explore how it feels for shop workers to wear uniforms that include the hijab and how comfortable customers are with this."

Professor Lewis will also be pursuing a new lesbian fashion project, as well as developing her exuberant solo stage performance "Out of the closet and into the wardrobe".

She is happy with the tag "agenda setting". "If they are referring to the way I pursue the questions to ask at the moment and not what is hot and sexy, then I am very happy with that," she said.

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