Dr Benjamin Wild


Dr Benjamin Wild


Email: b.wild@mmu.ac.uk

Telephone: 0161 247 2621

Academic and professional qualifications

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Previous Employment

Conde Nast College of Fashion & Design, London

Sotheby's Institute of Art, London

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Undergraduate teaching

Unit lead Fashion Cultures 1

Postgraduate research supervision

Available for PhD supervision

Projects and initiatives

Media appearances or involvement

Visiting and honorary positions

Editiorial Board membership

  • Advisory board member, Journal of Dress History.


Research Interests

  • History of clothing and fashion
  • Fancy dress costume
  • Menswear and masculinities
  • Royal dress and appearance

A historian of the decorative arts, my research seeks to situate contemporary and historic dress and fashions within their social and cultural context. Chiefly, I am keen to understand how material objects - primarily clothing and jewellery - become imbued with meaning to convey their owner's and wearer's values. Much of my research is characterised by an interdisciplinary and diachronic approach, which I believe is most effective to identify continuities and changes in cultural history.

My research interests initially focused on the dress and appearance of a society’s leaders and elite, but I have become increasingly interested in the self- and group-presentation of people marginalised by a society. Previous research inclines me to believe that what a society chooses to repudiate is often more revealing of its values than what it publicly champions; for to deny, fear and hold back often requires more conscious and sustained effort than to acquiesce and blithely accept. This thinking did much to shape my current book project on fancy dress costume, which is underpinned by Barbara Babcock’s observation that the ‘socially peripheral is often symbolically central, and if we ignore or minimize inversion or other forms of cultural negation we often fail to understand the dynamics of social process generally’. These ideas will be more explicitly considered in my proposed book project, Wearing Culture: Controversy, negotiation and the pursuit of fashion, which considers contemporary fashions that challenge social norms because they are thought to contravene long-standing taboos. The relevance of my research focuses will encourage me to share my work with broad audiences. For example, in May 2019, marginality was the subject of my TED talk.


Wild, BL., 2020. 'Carnival to Catwalk Global Reflections on Fancy Dress Costume', Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Wild, B., Walker, T., 2016. 'A Life in Fashion The Wardrobe of Cecil Beaton'.

Wild, BL., 2012. 'The Wardrobe Accounts of Henry III'.

Book Chapters

Wild, B., 2019. 'Clothing Royal Bodies: Changing attitudes to royal dress and appearance from the Middle Ages to Modernity'. In The Routledge History of Monarchy, Routledge.

Wild, B., 2019. 'Romantic Recreations: Remembering Stuart Monarchy in Nineteenth-Century Fancy Dress Entertainments'. In Remembering Kings and Queens in Early Modern England and France: Reputation, Reinterpretation, Reincarnation, Palgrave MacMillan.

Wild, B., 2019. 'Qui copier quand il n'ya plus personne à suivre? L'imitation dans la mode'. In Faut il imiter pour exister ? Tous des copieurs (et tant mieux) !, Philippe Duval.

Wild, B., 2016. 'Reasserting Medieval Kingship: King Henry III and the Dictum of Kenilworth'. In Baronial Reform and Revolution in England, 1258-1267, Boydell & Brewer.

Wild, B., 2011. 'The Empress’s New Clothes: A Rotulus Pannorum of Isabella, Sister of King Henry III, Bride of Emperor Frederick II'. In Medieval Clothing and Textiles, Boydell Press.

Journal Articles

Wild, BL., 2019. 'We Need to Talk About Fancy Dress: Connections (and Complications) Between the Catwalk and Fancy Dress Costume', Fashion Theory, pp. 1-24.

Wild, B., 2016. 'Imitation in fashion: Further reflections on the work of Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel', Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 3 (3), pp. 281-294.

Wild, BL., 2015. 'To have and to hold: Masculinity and the clutch bag', Critical Studies in Men???s Fashion, 2 (1), pp. 43-54.

Wild, BL., 2014. 'Secrecy, splendour and statecraft: the jewel accounts of King Henry III of England, 1216-72', Historical Research, 83 (221), pp. 409-430.

Wild, B., 2014. 'The civilizing process and sartorial studies', Clothing Cultures, 1 (3), pp. 213-224.

Wild, BL., 2011. 'Emblems and enigmas: Revisiting the ‘sword’ belt of Fernando de la Cerda', Journal of Medieval History, 37 (4), pp. 378-396.

Wild, BL., 2010. 'A Gift Inventory from the Reign of Henry III', The English Historical Review, CXXV (514), pp. 529-569.

Office Location

Room C2.32
Cavendish South
Manchester Fashion Institute
Manchester Metropolitan University
Cavendish Street
Manchester M15 6BG