Sarah Gilligan


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Costuming and fashion on and beyond the screen.
Gender, clothing and identities in popular visual culture.
Material and visual cultures.

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Personal profile


Dr Sarah Gilligan is an Assistant Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Fashion Communication in the School of Design. Her research and publications centre on clothing and identities on and beyond the screen - particularly the distinct, yet symbiotic relationships between costuming, fashion and star-celebrity culture in film, TV drama and photography. 

Sarah has published articles in Fashion Theory, Film, Fashion and Consumption and the Journal of Asia Pacific Popular Culture, together with contributions to a range of edited collections. Her most recent article, 'Fashioning masculinities: critical reflections on curation and future directions in masculinity studies' was published in Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty (14.1). Additionally, Sarah's co-authored article, ‘Fashion forward killer: Villanelle, costuming and queer style in Killing Eve’, was recently published in Film, Fashion and Consumption (10.2). Sarah has also guest edited special issues of Clothing Cultures (6.1), Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture (5.2-3), and Critical Studies in Men's Fashion (7.1-2). As part of her ongoing collaborative research with Jacky Collins (Stirling University), their article 'Growing old (dis)gracefully: Spanish masculinities and contemporary star-celebrity culture', for the Fashion & Style special issue of Journal of Bodies, Sexualities and Masculinities guest edited by Vicki Karaminas and Joseph Hancock will be published in July 2023. 

Sarah’s current research on fashioning ageing star-celebrities focuses on Keanu Reeves, and Tilda Swinton. She recently presented aspects of this research at the Fashioning Masculinities symposium at the V&A, and as a keynote speaker for the European Popular Culture Association conference. She will be presenting her latest research at EUPOP at  Stirling University (July 2023), and at 'Back to school: A fashion symposium' at New York University (October 2023). Additionally, building on their previous research on ageing Spanish masculinities (Gilligan and Collins 2019; 2023), Sarah's next co-written article currently in preparation is: 'Owning the space like a boss: gender, costume and performance in El buen patrón (2021) and Competencia oficial (2021)'. Sole authored and co-written articles tied to this research strand on ageing star-celebrities will be submitted for publication in peer reviewed fashion and cultural studies journals following Sarah's research sabbatical in semester one of 2023-24. 

Building on her existing research, Sarah is in the early stages of planning her large-scale interdisciplinary project: Costuming Identities: Images, Objects and Experiences in Contemporary Visual Cultures. This international project will include sole authored and collaborative research, publications and symposia. This project examining fashion, screen costuming and everyday dress, will form the central focus of Sarah's research trajectory between 2024-2027. It adopts a multi-modal approach combining textual analysis, object-based research and creative explorations.

Sarah is the co-founder (with Dr Petra Krpan, Zagreb) and chair of the Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures (FCVC) Network for which she received a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award. She has co-organised international conferences in Croatia (FCVC2018) and France (FCVC2019) together with in-person and online events, and mentoring for researchers in the UK and internationally. Sarah is Reviews Editor for Film, Fashion and Consumption journal and is a member of the editorial boards of Fashion, Style and Popular Culture, Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, and the International Journal of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles.  She is a member of the Critical Costume steering group and the European Popular Culture Association.

Sarah joined Northumbria University as a Senior Lecturer in 2020, following a career in further and adult education. Sarah remains highly committed to widening participation in education, and currently teaches and supervises student projects across BA, MA, MRes and PhD levels. She also mentors staff at and beyond Northumbria who are at different stages of their research and teaching careers. In 2021, Sarah became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), and she holds BA and MA qualifications in Media, Film and Cultural Studies, a Cert.Ed, together with a PhD in Media Arts from Royal Holloway, University of London. Sarah's thesis Transforming Identity: Gender, Costume & Contemporary Popular Cinema (supervised by Prof. Stella Bruzzi), was funded by a Thomas Holloway scholarship, and passed with no corrections. 


Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Royal Holloway University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2010




BA (Hons)


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