Jane Hattrick lectures primarily in dress history and has a specialist research focus on the designer Sir Norman Hartnell.
Jane made a detailed study of the private Hartnell archives for her doctoral research. Her broader work references issues of designers' public and private identities alongside an understanding of self-presentation, sexuality, performance and memory in relation to dress and couture.
Dr Jane Hattrick lectures in the History of Art and Design. She holds a first class BA in the History of Decorative Arts and Craft, and an MA in Design History and Material Culture (Distinction), from the University of Brighton where she has lectured part-time since 2006 in the History of Art and Design. Jane’s AHRC-funded PhD thesis, ‘A Life in the Archive: The Dress, Design and Identity of the London Couturier Norman Hartnell, 1921-1979’ was awarded by the University of Brighton, in 2012.
Hattrick's thesis probed Hartnell’s vast, privately owned paper archive and collection of possessions, hidden from public view since 1985, developing an interdisciplinary investigation which tracked the relationship between Hartnell’s identity, both the public professional ‘face’ of Hartnell and the impact of his queer private life in the life-long design work of Britain’s most prominent couturier. Her thesis brings the celebrated British fashion designer and royal dresser, Sir Norman Hartnell as a subject of dress history, into the fields of material culture and design history. Hattrick does this through an analysis of the contents of a private house and its contents, which includes a large collection of fashionable garments designed by Hartnell and Hartnell’s personal and business paper archive along with personal effects, decorative objects and furniture which once belonged to the designer.
Using studio photographic portraits taken between 1928 and 1970, and surviving garments in feminine styles and fabrics worn by the couturier, Hartnell’s coded styles of dressing and queer identity, and the extent to which this impacted his design work, was explored. This is the first examination of this collection through the lenses of material culture and queer theory.
As a result of four years research and cataloguing of the Hartnell archive, Jane considers archives as key primary source material for the study of Design History. Oral histories recorded between 2006-2011 with those that worked with him and were close to the designer in life offered unique insight into the working regime at the House of Hartnell and further understanding of Hartnell’s personality and character. The use of Oral History methodology also helps to explode the myth of the ‘genius designer’ and unpacks the working practices of a twentieth century fashion house in-depth.
Primarily a Dress Historian, Jane’s object based material culture approaches reclaim Hartnell and reevaluates his contribution to British couture, in order to position him (and the design and production of couture at the House of Hartnell) at the centre of the finally emerging, growing body of research on London couture recently established. She also researches the signature styles of individual designers over decades with a view to unpacking this signature in terms of a designer’s personal and professional identity
Jane’s research interests also include the dressing of British royal women in the twentieth and twenty-first century, and the construction and performance of royal identity through dress. With a previous career as a performer in Musical Theatre, the ways in which London couturiers dressed actresses for the West End stage in the inter-war period and throughout the Second World War is also a key area of interest, in particular relation to Norman Hartnell.
Issues of self-presentation, performance and memory have been probed in order to unpack Hartnell’s personal choice in interior design. The taste and collecting practices of individual designers and the ways in which these form a part of the construction of their identity and impact their creative practice, continues to be a key research interest.
Jane continues to explore the impact of gender and sexuality of the designer on their practice, queering dress and design history through the lenses of material culture and queer theory. Hattrick’s interdisciplinary research into hitherto avoided aspects of the designer’s life and work, also considers how sexuality might impact the collecting and display of objects.
Jane appeared in a BBC 4 TV documentary, The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the II, on 31 May 2012 and spoke at Kensington Palace's ‘Modern Monarchy’ conference on 8 June 2012. She was in Paris on 15 June 2012 at the Institut d'histoire de temps, with University of Brighton Professor Lou Taylor and the university’s Dress History Collective, and in July 2012 she led the course ‘Introducing the Designer, Sir Norman Hartnell’, at the V&A Museum Summer School.
Hattrick, Jane (2016) Using ‘dress appearance […] to define who I am to others’: everyday fashion and subjectivity amongst white lesbians in Brighton 2005-2015 Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 3 (2). pp. 173-191. ISSN 2050-0726
Hattrick, Jane (2015) An 'unexpected pearl': gender and performativity in the public and private lives of London couturier Norman Hartnell In: Nicklas, Charlotte and Pollen, Annebella, eds. Dress history: new directions in theory and practice. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 145-160. ISBN 9780857855411
Hattrick, Jane (2015) Norman Hartnell In: de la Haye, A. and Ehrman, E., eds. London couture 1923-1975: British luxury. V & A Publishing, London, pp. 44-59. ISBN 9781851778508
Hattrick, Jane (2014) Seduced by the archive: a personal and working relationship with the archive and collection of the London couturier, Norman Hartnell In: Moran, A. and O'Brien, S., eds. Love objects: emotion, design and material culture. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 75-86. ISBN 9780857858467
Hattrick, Jane (2012) Collecting and displaying identity, intimacy and memory in the staged interiors of the royal couturier Norman Hartnell In: Dudley, Sandra H., Barnes, Amy Jane, Vinnie, Jennifer, Petrov, Julia and Walklate, Jennifer, eds. Narrating objects, collecting stories. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 136-152. ISBN 9780415692717
Hattrick, Jane (2011) A life in the archive: the dress, design and identity of the London couturier Norman Hartnell, 1921-1979 Doctoral thesis, University of Brighton.