Alexandra Palmer

Fellowship Year: 


Project Title: 

The Consumption, Social Function and Style of Couture in Toronto, 1945-1965

The purpose of this project is to research records in private couture houses in Paris, France, as well as those in French public archives and the archives held by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture. The information to be gathered in Europe relates directly to the couture garments in the ROM’s collection. It also relates to couture garments that have been identified in private hands, as well as to orders for couture which, to date, are not listed in any Canadian collection, archival record or publication. This is part of the research necessary for my dissertation entitled “The consumption, social function and style of couture worn in Toronto, 1945-1963.”  

About the Fellow: 

At the time of her fellowship, Dr. Palmer was a Ph.D. candidate at Brighton Polytechnic (now Brighton University) in the U.K. She is currently the Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Senior Curator and Chair of the Veronika Gervers Research Fellowship in Textiles & Costume at the ROM. 

Fellow Research: 

Dr. Palmer used her time as a Gervers fellow to further work on her dissertation. She had already inventoried over 250 garments in the ROM’s collection, but needed to carry out more research on couture houses, public museums, and archives in Paris that relate to the ROM’s postwar collection of couture. She sought to identify the original dates, prices, and buyers of the garments, connecting them back to their originating couture houses in Paris. This identification process is a significant part of identifying bonded couture models, as opposed to couture garments that were directly imported specifically for the Canadian market. This information was to prove critical in completing her thorough analysis of couture in Toronto in the postwar years.  

Related Publications: 

Palmer, Alexandra. 2001. Couture & commerce: the transatlantic fashion trade in the 1950s. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Palmer, Alexandra. 1994. The myth and reality of haute couture: consumption, social function and taste in Toronto, 1945-1963. [Thesis]

Authored by: Kait Sykes

Authored by: Kait Sykes