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Dr Ellen Sampson

VC Senior Fellow

Department: Northumbria School of Design

Ellen Sampson is an artist and material culture researcher whose work explores the relationships between clothing and bodily experience, both in museums and archives and in everyday life. Using film, photography, and writing, she examines the ways that garmnets become records of lived experience: how people and the things they wear become entwined. Sampson has a PhD from the Royal College of Art, London and was 2018/19 Polaire Weissman fellow at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and 2019/20 Professorial Fellow at University for the Creative Arts.

Ellen Sampson

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

The Afterlives Of Clothes 

'The Afterlives Of Clothes', was initially developed while on a Fellowship at the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018-19) and an artist’s residency at Bard Graduate Center, New York (2019- 2020). The project the project brings together archival research with auto-ethnographic writing, image, and filmmaking to explore the affect of damaged garments in museum collections. Focusing on accessories, objects which Jones and Stallybrass term “detachable parts” of the self, it seeks to highlight the bodily practices of wearing and maintaining clothes, clothing as lived and embodied experience, in objects where little or no biographical evidence exists. Asking how in a field where absent bodies and narratives are already understood as problematic, these traces might re-contextualize objects and bring into focus bodies and narratives which would otherwise be excluded from display. 


Curative Things

Curative Things is a collaborative project organised by the Thing Power Research Group (Leeds Arts University), Thinking Through Things (Wellcome Trust Funded Project, Durham University), and Fashion Research Network

Bringing together new scholarship at the intersections of medical humanities, fashion research and visual arts practice, this Project explores the relationship between wearable objects and human health, with particular emphasis on how artists are creatively responding to and rethinking these relations. Wearable objects might include, but are not limited to: clothing, footwear, headwear, jewellery, implants, prostheses or physical aids; things that have the potential to restrict, contain, embrace or extend the body; things that we wear and things that wear us 


Enclothed Knowledges

This project explores the role of practice-based research in Fashion Studies, asking how knowledge generated through practice can challenge, critique and advance the field?  In his 2017 paper, Ben Barry uses the term 'enclothed knowledge' to capture the multi-modal and multi-sensory knowledges, which acts of wearing and making clothes produce. This panel takes the idea of 'enclothed knowledge' a starting point to examine the role and position of practice-based research in fashion studies. It asks what we know through making fashion objects, images and exhibitions – and how these knowledges might differ from those produced through more traditional academic research practices?

Historically there has been a division in both fashion academia and education between those who study through making and those who study through observation. However, the 'embodied turn', and attendant reorientation of the field has revealed the porous nature of these divisions, the ways that in 'fashion thinking' theory and practice are often intertwined. In the context of current attempts to define and formalize the field, this project seeks to critically examine the role of practice-based fashion research in fashion studies. It asks how methodologies of making and wearing clothes intersect with and expand upon current concerns with embodiment, tacit knowledge and the sensory experience of dress.


Fashion Research Network 

I am co-founder of Fashion Research Network, an interdisciplinary network for researchers in fashion studies. Through collaboration we facilitate, disseminate and promote conversations which critically examine the nature of fashion studies and the parameters of the field. FRN brings together researchers from multiple subject areas and institutions to critically examine the role of dress in society. Founded a point when the field was both less established and less defined, FRN has played a key part in shaping understanding of fashion studies as a diverse and dynamic field in the UK. We work to facilitate conversations and collaboration between those who research through practice and those who research using traditional methodologies.  FRN is built on a model of collaboration, working with a diverse range of partners to deliver events. Past partners include FIT, University of Brighton, National Portrait Gallery and ICA. Since 2013 FRN have convened 11 symposia, and numerous seminars, reading groups, and curator talks- building a vibrant and resilient network of researchers


Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • The Afterlives of Clothes: a Phenomenology of the Dress Archive, Sampson, E. 2023
  • Fragments, Traces, and Belongings; Archives and the Power of Productive Doubt, Sampson, E. 30 Jun 2021
  • Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion, Amy de la Haye, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, United States, 2020, Published in Association with The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Notes, Bibliography, Credits, Index, 38 Black–and– White Illustrations, 228 Colour Illustrations, 240 pages, Hardback, £30.00., Sampson, E. 8 Jun 2021, In: The Journal of Dress History
  • Affect and Sensation: A Phenomenology of the Dress Archive, Sampson, E. 27 Nov 2020, In: Fashion Studies
  • Archives of the Everyday: Finding what is hidden in the dress archive, Sampson, E. 10 Apr 2020
  • Fashioning research- embodied knowledge, bodily practices and the role of practice-based research in fashion studies., Sampson, E. 2020, College Arts Association Annual Conference
  • On Walking, Sampson, E. 21 Oct 2020
  • Worn: Footwear, Attachment and Affects of Wear, Sampson, E. 10 Dec 2020
  • Emotional objects (Solo show and Artist Residency): Bard Graduate Centre, New York, Sampson, E. 6 Dec 2019
  • Editorial note: Hair Revisited, Savi, L., Romano, A., Sampson, E., Beard, N. 2 Nov 2018, In: Fashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Oral presentation: Affecting objects: clothing archives and the edges of the fashion 2021
  • Oral presentation: The body beyond the body: clothing archives, touch, and the body schema 2021
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Curative Things: Medicine Fashion Art 2021
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Enclothed Knowledges: What Do We Know Through Making And Wearing Clothes? 2021
  • Oral presentation: Affect and Sensation: A Phenomenology Of Dress Archive 2020
  • Oral presentation: Peripheries of the Archive 2020
  • Oral presentation: Archives of The Everyday 2020
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Conference Paper: Fashioning research- embodied knowledge, bodily practices and the role of practice-based research in fashion studies. At College Arts Association Conference 2020
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Conference Paper: Dancing Desire and Death: Footwear in Fairy tales, Folklore and Footwear 2019
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Conference Paper: The Afterlives of Clothes Met Fellows Colloquium Cloth and Clothing, 2019

PGR Supervision

Isabel Mundigo-Moore Start Date: 01/10/2021


  • PhD August 31 2016
  • Fashion MA February 01 2009
  • anthropology BSc (Hons) July 01 2003

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