Picture by Jo Duck
Clothes are but a symbol of something hid deep beneath – Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Amber Butchart is a fashion historian on a quest to reveal the secrets of our sartorial past and place the semiotics of style in a wider cultural, political and social sphere. She is a writer, broadcaster and lecturer, and a featured historian on various productions from Radio 4′s Making History and Woman’s Hour to the BBC Breakfast News. She is an Associate Lecturer at London College of Fashion and she hosts a regular ‘In Conversation’ series at the V&A focusing on issues surrounding the costumed body in performance and fashion, covering areas from Shakespeare to David Bowie. Her latest book, Nautical Chic: the history of high fashion on the high seas, is forthcoming in 2015 published by Thames & Hudson. Her first book, Amber Jane Butchart’s Fashion Miscellany – a compilation of vestimentary oddities, tips and trivia – sold out within a month of publication and was featured in The Times ‘five best style titles for spring’, and The Observer’s Top 5 picks. It is available to buy via the Guardian, Foyles, Amazon, and all good bookshops.
As well as providing the backstory to emerging trends or current key pieces, Amber is regularly called on to share her expertise on the fashion industry and its history. She has spoken about everything from 17th century silk weavers on Great British Sewing Bee, to the history of dress sizing and the social significance of Margaret Thatcher’s wardrobe for BBC Breakfast, dressing up for the theatre for Radio 4′s You & Yours and the resurgence of 1940s fashions for BBC1′s Week We Went to War. She co-presented an episode for the BBC Learning series, Your Body: Your Image for BBC2 on the lack of diversity in the fashion media, part of the governmental remit to promote positive body image in schools, and has appeared numerous times on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, covering everything from older women and style to the history of stripes and the sea. Find more here; for media work Amber is represented by Rush Talent.
Amber is regularly asked to speak at conferences and public lectures on various aspects of fashion history, from symposiums on fashion and food to talks on the cultural history of shoes. She has spoken at a range of institutions including the British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, V&A, Tate Britain, British Library, Institute for Contemporary Arts, Wellcome Collection and British Film Institute, on areas as diverse as cross-dressing in Victorian music hall, gothic style, and the Regency fashion of Jane Austen. She is a regular on the SHOWstudio fashion week panels and has also featured as an industry judge for the Clothes Show Style Awards. See here for more information on talks and lectures.
Amber is one half of creative collaboration the Broken Hearts: Rising Star Sony Award nominees who are best known for their spectacular DJ sets, described by The Independent as “a Hollywood musical on hallucinogenics.” They have graced stages across the globe for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton. Their weekly radio show, Peppermint Candy on Jazz FM, is a celebration of inter-war culture focussing on swing music with an emphasis on forgotten women of the Jazz Age. It was described by The Guardian as “a cool swing music show hosted by two vintage style icons” and was featured as Pick of the Day in the Sunday Times. To find out more about the Broken Hearts, please visit their website.
For 7 years Amber worked as the Head Buyer and Trend Analyst for international vintage clothing chain Beyond Retro, during which time she was interviewed for The Observer as one of the fashion world’s best buyers and photographed for Vogue as a girl with great British style (for more press click here). She established the Beyond Retro Print and Design Archive which currently sells vintage inspiration pieces to design houses throughout Europe, America and Japan. She was a contributor to leading trend forecasting company WGSN for 5 years, and she completed a Research Fellowship at the University of the Arts London, looking at the influence of Hollywood costume on London fashion in the 1930s.
Amber is a member of the Royal Historical Society and the Association of Dress Historians, and is available to write features and contribute to TV or radio productions on many aspects of fashion and beauty history. For enquiries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good fashion is good performance art – Iris Apfel