Alexandra Palmer

Dr. Alexandra Palmer. Photo: George Whiteside

Alexandra Palmer

Senior Curator, Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Curatorship

Area: World Cultures, Textiles & Fashions

Exhibitions & Galleries: Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume


B.A., Art History, University of Toronto, 1979
M.A., History of Costume and Textiles (in conjunction with the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), New York University, 1981
Ph.D., Design History, University of Brighton, England, 1995

Alexandra Palmer is the Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Senior Curator and Chair of the Veronika Gervers Research Fellowship in Textiles & Costume at the ROM, and a Co-curator of BIG, the latest exhibit in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume. She is cross appointed and teaches in Fine Art History at the University of Toronto, and the Graduate Programme in Art History at York University, and the School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University.

A Canadian born in Greece and raised in England, Alexandra received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Toronto, her M.A. in the History of Costume & Textiles from New York University in conjunction with the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum and her PhD in Design History from the University of Brighton.

Before she came to the ROM in 1997 she was Assistant Professor for Craft and Design History at Nova Scotia College of Art. At the ROM she has curated Measure for Measure  (1989) in the Samuel European Galleries, Au Courant: Contemporary Canadian Fashion (1997) and Papiers à la Mode for  The Institute of Contemporary Culture (2001), as well as Unveiling the Textiles & Costume Collection (spring 2002) , Elite Elegance: Couture in the Feminine Fifties (November 2002- spring 2003) and the exhibits in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume since it opened in  2007.

Dr. Palmer has edited and contributed to numerous books, museum catalogues and journals. She is the author of two award winning books, Couture & Commerce: The Transatlantic Fashion Trade in the 1950s (2001) Clio for Ontario history, and  Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise 1947-1957 (2009) Millia Davenport Publication 2010 Award. 

Dr. Palmer currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, the first truly interdisciplinary, academic journal devoted to luxury. The journal consider's luxury in broad socio-cultural contexts, exploring and interrogating both our historical and contemporary understanding of the term.


¡Viva México! Clothing and Culture
¡Viva México! Clothing and Culture
May 2015 - May 2016

Two images of a trench coat on a seated mannequin
Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting 
June 2014 - January 2015

For these hand-crafted archival replicas of their creations, Viktor&Rolf created a “runway” environment specifically for the ROM.
June - July 2013

November 2012 - January 2014

Videos and Podcasts

Fashion in Museums: Why These Exhibits are Important - New!
In conversation with Fashion Talks
September 2018

Blog Posts

Viktor&Rolf Dolls come to the ROM
June 20, 2013

History of the White Wedding Dress
April 29, 2011

Other Links

National Gallery of Canada - Audio Guide to fashion in paintings 1550-1940

Recent Publications

Year Publication
2009 "Dior. A New Look, A New Enterprise 1947-57." V&A Publications
2008 Giovanni Franci and Rosella Mangaroni. "Una breva storia della moda canadese." La Moda in Canada I libri di Emil: Bologna
2007 Michèle Ruffat and Dominique Veillon . "Haute couture, copies nord-américaines et prêt-à-porter." La mode des sixties. L’entrée dans la modernité. Autrement : Paris
2007 L. Welters and A. Lillethun. "Torontonian Taste in Couture." The Fashion Reader, Berg: Oxford
2007 "The Paper Caper. Fashions of the Sixties." RRRIPP!! Paper Fashion Benaki Museum, Athens
2007 "Inside Paris Haute Couture." The Golden Age: Haute couture 1947-57 V&A Publications
2006 "Christian Dior à New York." In Christian Dior et Le Monde, Christian Dior Musée et éditions Artlys, 31-39.
2006 "A Bomb in the Collection: Researching and exhibiting early twentieth century fashion." The future of the twentieth century. Collecting, interpreting & conserving modern materials, AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies: Archety

Research Projects

Social and Cultural History of Couture in Toronto, 1900-1937

Printed Textiles in the 20th Century

The transatlantic fashion trade in the 1950s

History of the second hand fashion trade

Historical essays on Canadian fashion


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