—i'm lauren downing peters.
(but i suppose you already know that)
I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri— the one with jazz and ribs. In 2006, I moved about 300 miles away, to St. Louis Missouri, to attend Washington University in St. Louis. At Wash U., I double majored in art history and anthropology, played two years of varsity basketball, and studied abroad for a semester at University College London. I also wrote a capstone paper about the life and work of the American photojournalist Weegee.
After college, I moved to New York City to join the inaugural class of the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons School of Design, The New School. During my time there, I encountered Joanne Entwistle's benchmark text, The Fashioned Body, and so began my enduring fascination with the relationship between dress, the body, and power. Inspired by Entwistle's observation that all bodies are inherently dressed bodies, for my master's thesis, I conducted sartorial biographies of self-proclaimed fat women — exploring how they negotiated the stigma of fat with the constraints placed upon their bodies by the plus-size fashion industry. I later adapted my thesis into my first academic, peer-reviewed article titled You Are What You Wear: How Plus-Size Fashion Figures in Fat Identity Formation for the journal Fashion Theory (Volume 18, Issue 1: 2014). I also spent a summer and a fall interning at the New York offices of trend forecaster, Lidewij Edelkoort. I wrote about that experience for The Fashion Studies Journal.
After graduating with distinction from Parsons in 2012, I worked for a semester as an adjunct faculty member in the school of Art and Design History & Theory at Parsons where I taught survey art history and fashion courses, and developed an elective course about fashion models (essentially a bait-and-switch to get students in the door thinking about bodies, beauty, and power). A few months into my first semester teaching at Parsons, The Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University put out a call for PhD applicants. I submitted my application in November and by February I was packing up to move to Stockholm, Sweden to pursue a PhD in fashion studies.
In May 2018, I successfully defended my dissertation, "Stoutwear and the Discourses of Disorder: Fashioning the Fat, Female Body in American Fashion in the Age of Standardization, 1915-1930." You can read my dissertation in its entirety here.
In addition to my studies at the Centre, in the last few years, I've also been a frequent lecturer in fashion studies at Parsons Paris, The New School, and have been working as editor-in-chief of The Fashion Studies Journal — a project and community I am immensely proud of. You can read more about that here.
In August 2018, I joined the faculty of Columbia College Chicago at the rank of assistant professor in the Fashion Studies Department. There, I teach fashion history and theory and am working with my colleagues to develop forward-thinking and inclusive fashion design, merchandising, and product development curricula. You can read more about this work here.