Fashion & Society

Curious Minds Speaker Series


Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Tue, Oct 11, 2022 1:00 PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Tue, Oct 18, 2022 1:00 PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Tue, Oct 25, 2022 1:00 PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Tue, Nov 1, 2022 1:00 PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Tue, Nov 8, 2022 1:00 PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Tue, Nov 15, 2022 1:00 PM
Film Info


Tuesdays, October 11 - November 15, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Enhanced health & safety protocols in place for all in-person Curious Minds courses, including mandatory masking (except while eating or drinking) and physically distanced seating. Registration is limited!

Fashion is a form of self-expression, but it’s also a reflection of artistic, social, cultural, economic, and political forces at any given time. Peppered with historical and contemporary examples from across pop culture, this new series from culture journalist Nathalie Atkinson will take us on a globe-trotting, time-traveling journey through fashion history. From the fashion plates of the French Royal Court to Gilded Age flappers and dandies, from Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress to the miniskirts of the Sixties, this will be a dynamic, thought-provoking survey of the major influences that have shaped Western fashion in the modern era—and how we still dress today.

Led by Nathalie Atkinson, arts journalist and contributing columnist to The Globe and Mail newspaper and Zoomer magazine. Nathalie was previously the National Post’s award-winning Style & Design editor and her writing has appeared widely, including CNN Style, Vulture, and BBC Culture. A fashion and cultural historian who explores art and design at the intersection of culture and commerce, Nathalie is also the creator and host of the monthly film series Designing the Movies.

Course Registration: $69 (Hot Docs Members: $60, $48, Free)

Pro-rated registration is available at the box office. Please purchase with your first class.

Single tickets for individual classes are available.

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Curious Minds Speaker Series sponsored by

Hollywood Suite

October 11: Fashion & Celebrity

What do we talk about what we talk about fashion? To understand what clothing can tell us means understanding the evolution of the fashion system. We’ll rewind to the French royal court and Louis XIV, king of couture and lover of fashion plates, then following the high-low of how trends are born and popularized, from the exclusivity of hushed haute couture salons to the advent of inexpensive periodicals for the masses, and the glitter of Hollywood and celebrity influence in its many forms.

October 18: Fashion & Politics

The 19th century Industrialization boom gave birth to Gilded Age excess, expressed in elaborate, opulent dress that later inspired Christian Dior’s influential 1947 New Look. The lecture will look at the correlation between the clothes and cultural underpinnings of the Gilded Age and 1950s—and considers how the latter’s dominant Cinderella myth (think: Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly) not only played a role in post-war consumption but helped advance a politically conservative agenda.

October 25: Fashion & Liberation

The evolution of specialized clothes for active sports at the turn of the last century fed an appetite for functional clothing. And none more so than the clothing required for that feat of Victorian engineering: cycling. The newfound freedom of this radical invention enabled social, career, and class mobility and had a profound effect on clothing, particularly for women. From bicycles to bloomers, this lecture looks at the enduring legacy of early 20th century dress reform in modern fashion.

November 1 : Fashion & Revolution

The revolutionary spirit of the Roaring Twenties and Swinging Sixties influenced fashion in strikingly common ways, with both periods of dramatic social transformation succinctly expressed in equally dramatic shifts in clothing. Against the backdrop of the Jazz Age and Youthquake, this lecture considers the parallel impact of new youth culture, popular music, and design technologies on the era’s fashion and puts the innovative work of key designers like Coco Chanel and Mary Quant into context.

November 8 : Fashion & Resistance

From the white dress of the suffrage movement and the pink pussy hats of the Women’s March to the polarizing Zoot Suit and activist wardrobe of the Black Panther Party, clothing has been a powerful form of resistance, solidarity, and protest. In this lecture we’ll look at the meanings behind sartorial phenomena—like how the history of denim made its symbolic use in the Civil Rights movement a potent tool to challenge injustice and oppression.

November 15: Fashion & Identity

Men in heels. Women in suits. Charting the evolution of the so-called peacock and dandy through the ages, through the 1930s androgynous allure of Marlene Dietrich borrowing from the boys (for the pockets alone!) to the 1980s slogan t-shirt’s relationship to queer culture, the Metrosexual and today’s shifting ideas around the gender binary, this lecture will unpack constructions of gender and sexuality expressed through clothing and the subversion of prevailing cultural expectations.