Chris Breward and Michelle Tolini Finamore will present at Modern Design History Seminar. They will each give a short paper followed by a moderated conversation and Q&A session.


“Between the Gallery and the Academy: Adventures in Art, Fashion, and Design” (Chris Breward)

Over the past thirty years Christopher Breward has worked on the culture of fashion in the context of the art school, the decorative arts museum, the university, and the art gallery. In this lecture he will reflect on some of the highlights, and discuss the practice of research, writing, and curating, developments in the public perception of fashion as a subject, and potential futures for the field.

“Negotiating Contemporary Relevance: Fashion Exhibitions in a Changing Landscape” (Michelle Tolini Finamore)

This talk will look back at Finamore’s fifteen-plus years as a Fashion and Design Curator to explore how cultural shifts, issues of voice, and the changing idea of “expertise” have affected museum interpretation. In light of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, the role of the curator, and the museum, is changing dramatically and the way fashion is presented within that context must change too. Finamore will give a brief overview of exhibitions she has curated at the MFA Boston and other institutions and look back at the lessons learned from these exhibitins as well as look forward to the future in order to foster a discussion about what it means to be a fashion curator today.


Chris Breward is Director of National Museums Scotland. He was trained at the Courtauld Institute and the Royal College of Art, London and has previously worked as Director of Collection and Research at the National Galleries of Scotland, Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and as Principal of Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. His published interests include the relationship between art and fashion, visual and cultural histories of masculinity, and histories of city life.

Michelle Tolini Finamore is an independent fashion and design curator. Until October 2020 she was the Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she curated the exhibitions Gender Bending Fashion, #techstyle (co-curator), Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen (co-curator), and Think Pink, and Jewelry by Artists: The Daphne Farago Collection (co-curator). She has lectured widely and written numerous articles for both the scholarly and popular press. She received her PhD from Bard Graduate Center with a dissertation entitled “Fashioning Early Cinema: Dress and Representation in American Film, 1910-1930.”