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Photograph of Rachel Lifter in orange and light blue shirt

Rachel Lifter

Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Director

Art and Art Professions

Rachel Lifter joined the MA Costume Studies program in fall 2020 as Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Director. She writes histories with a focus on fashion’s social and cultural dimensions.

Her current book-length project, tentatively titled “The Lost Generation,” is an attempt to create a social biography of a generation of fashion industry professionals—designers, illustrators, hair and make-up artists, buyers, merchandisers, models, stylists, and journalists—who were affected by the AIDS epidemic. The project is largely based in oral history, to prioritize the voices of the people who experienced this period of immense creativity and crisis.

She is the co-creator of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Postal Workwear Oral History Project, which stemmed from a graduate-level course she co-created at NYU. The project aims to center the voices of postal workers within the museum’s collecting and curatorial strategies. With two colleagues from the Museum’s curatorial department, Dr. Lifter wrote a chapter on the project for the edited volume Fashion in American Life (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2024) and presented at the 2022 Oral History Association Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

Dr. Lifter is the author of Fashioning Indie: Popular Fashion, Music, and Gender (Bloomsbury 2019), which charts the gendered and racialized transformation of indie from British music subculture to international fashion phenomenon. Her writing also appears in Communicating Fashion Brands (Routledge 2020), Fashion Stylists (Bloomsbury 2020), Fashioning Professionals (Bloomsbury 2018), Fashion Cultures Revisited (Routledge 2013) and the exhibition catalogue for “Clash –Resistance in Fashion” (Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014).

Previously, Dr. Lifter held faculty positions at Parsons School of Design (2013-2020) and London College of Fashion (2008-2013). She was the Reviews and Open Space editor of the International Journal of Fashion Studies from 2014-2017. Dr. Lifter received her Ph.D. in Fashion/Social and Cultural Studies from the University of the Arts London, her MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics, and her BA in German Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.


Costume Studies

The MA in Costume Studies program focuses on fashion as an important cultural product in the context of material culture and the fine and decorative arts.

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