Fashion History For Today

A critical perspective on how twelve exclusively curated moments in fashion history continue to disrupt and affect the industry today.

Colin McDowell

Colin McDowell

Fashion Writer, Journalist and Academic MBE
Questions? Please contact us at

Course Overview

Fashion History For Today

From Dior’s New Look, to McQueen’s Runway Robots, this Masterclass provides a critical perspective on how twelve exclusively curated moments in fashion history continue to disrupt and affect the fashion industry today. Trends in fashion are representative of changes in the cultural, economic and political environment. Understand the impact of twelve seminal moments of 20th Century fashion and articulate their relevance to contemporary society. If you have further enquiries, please contact us at

Who is it for?
  • Those seeking creative inspiration and insight into key moments within 20th Century fashion
  • Those who wish to explore trend development and fashion zeitgeist
  • Those looking to enhance their contextual and critical understanding of fashion history
What do you get?
  • Video tutorials from our industry expert who shares his extensive personal experiences
  • Academic presentations outlining key theoretical trend frameworks
  • Articles, activities and quizzes to solidify your learnings
What you Learn?
  • Identification of designers, their iconic designs and their influence on fashion today
  • An understanding and application of the socio-cultural concepts of the zeitgeist and fashion diffusion theory
  • Recognition of how moments in history impact key functions of the industry

Your Tutor - Colin McDowell

Colin McDowell

Acclaimed fashion expert Colin McDowell is one of the most influential and internationally respected figures within the global fashion community. Through his position as Chief Fashion Writer of The Sunday Times Style and as founder the Fashion Fringe initiative, McDowell has played an integral role in the support and growth of the fashion industry. In 2008 he was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II.

Curriculum Summary

The curriculum begins with an overview and introduction to your Tutor, Colin McDowell. You shall then be guided through key modules which discuss trend theory and application of such, before moving on to 12 exclusively selected fashion moments of the 20th Century. To conclude, a summary to reflect on learnings. For further detail please see below.

Course Overview

In the prelude, we outline the structure and learning objectives of this course. This is followed by an introduction to your tutor, Colin McDowell, and the definition of the concept of a fashion moment and zeitgeist. Each module of the course covers a particular moment in fashion, why this moment happened and why it is still relevant today.

30 minutes 4x Video 4x Pdf

1. Dior and The New Look

Here we discuss the iconic New Look created by Christian Dior in 1954.

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

2. Elvis Presley and Rock 'n' Roll

Here we discuss how Elvis brought the rock ‘n’ roll subculture to the mass market with his seminal performance of Hounddog on TV on the Milton Berle Show.

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

3. The Swinging Sixties

Here we discuss covers the directional music and fashion scenes in London in 1966, which saw it crowned the “swinging city” by Time magazine.

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

4. YSL and Le Smoking

Here we discuss how Yves Saint Laurent shifted the perception of women wearing trousers with the presentation of his tuxedo suit for women.

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

5. The Summer of Love

Here we discuss how the emergence of the hippie, bohemian style from San Francisco, while was popularised by Woodstock festival. 

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

6. David Bowie and Androgyny

Here we cover the influence of David Bowie’s androgynous style, embodied by the cover of his album, “The Man Who Sold The World,” for which the long-haired singer posed on a chaise longue in a “man dress.” 

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

7. Punk on the Kings Road

Here we cover the retail store opened by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood on the King’s Road, and the pair’s styling of the Sex Pistols, which together gave birth to the punk fashion subculture.  

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

8. Japanese Designers in Paris

Here we cover the Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, who moved to Paris Fashion Week to show their ‘avant garde’ collections, initially meeting with a mixed response but popularising a new, deconstructed aesthetic.

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

9. Versace and the Supermodels

Here we cover the elite group of highly paid ‘super’ models — Linda, Cindy, Naomi and Christy — who were booked by Versace to close his 1991 show, smiling and singing to George Michael’s “Freedom.”

30 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

10. Marc Jacobs and Grunge

Here we cover Marc Jacobs infamously ill-received “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis, which focused on styling rather than design and consisted of baggy, scruffy, mix and match basic items, which resulted in the designer being sacked.

20 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

11. Calvin Klein's Minimalism

Here we cover the fashion minimalism moment, epitomised by the controversial Calvin Klein campaigns starring Kate Moss, whose look was dubbed “heroin chic.”

20 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

12. McQueen's Runway Robots

Here we cover Alexander McQueen’s combination of technology and performance art for his arts and crafts-themed No. 13 show, which saw model Shalom Harlow’s tulle dress spray painted by two robots arms.

20 minutes 7x Pdf 3x Video 3x Quiz

13. Summary

Your tutor, Colin McDowell, offers personal career advice on the fashion industry and concludes by outlining the overall key learnings from this Masterclass course.

10 minutes 1x Video 1x Pdf 1x Quiz


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BoF Certification

Upon the successful completion of their selected BoF course, students will be granted access to their digital certification, which can be shared across all social networks and will identify their accomplishment to the international industry.

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1. Eligibility, Enrollment and Registration

In order for us to deliver you the course securely, you do need to have a registered account with BoF. It will also help you to stay abreast of industry movements and current fashion affairs. You can register with our community here.

There is no age limit, though courses are self-directed so users must be able to take themselves through the process independently.

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2. Courses and Certification

E-learning is when all the course material is presented online for you. BoF courses allow you to learn at your own leisure and work studies into your own schedule.

No set skills are required, though we encourage beginners to enrol in our Masterclass courses and those with a foundation of experience and understanding to enrol in our Immersion courses.

Masterclass courses are entry-level, where no previous knowledge of the topic is required. Immersion is for those who are more educated in the topic and are looking to further develop their knowledge and understanding.

Each course varies, though you will learn through video tutorials, academic presentations, essential readings, learning activities, key references and fashion terms.

Once you have received your payment confirmation and completed enrolment, you will be able to access your course online. You can visit your course easily at any time — either access the course via the BoF website, where you will be directly rerouted to it, or use the email link you were sent after enrolling.

You are able to download the written course materials, but not the video tutorials.

At any stage you wish throughout the year — there are no limitations as all courses are self-directed to allow you to work around your schedules.

On completing the course, you will receive a BoF certificate that will be globally recognised by leading players in the industry. You will be able to download and share your certificate upon successful completion of your course.

If you do have questions please reach out to us

There are no time limitation, so you can learn at your own leisure.

Courses vary in length. Please look at each course overview page in order to better understand timings. You can view our full range of courses here.

BoF has carefully selected industry leaders and experts to teach each different course, according to their knowledge and experience.

All courses are self-directed, but we are here to help should you need support. Reach out to us at

We have designed these courses to be self-directed, so you can fit them around your schedules and work on them at any time, day or night.

Of course! We would encourage you to do so in order to develop your learnings and boost your skill set to stand out from others.

You will receive a BoF certificate which will be globally recognised by leading players in the industry.

You can view all available courses, or help influence future courses we produce here.

There are no exams in any of the courses. Instead, we assess your learnings with course relevant questions throughout each module, to make experience more useful.

3. Payment

Prices vary from course to course. Click here to view full range of courses and prices.

Payment is taken before you can begin your selected course.

Each course varies and some are led by industry leaders, though you will learn from video tutorials, academic presentations, essential reading, learning activities and fashion terms. BoF has also carefully selected industry leaders and experts to teach each different course, according to their knowledge and experience. You shall also be able to add your course certification to your Linkedin profile with a click of a button and of course include your level of achievement and course content on your CV.

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