Vanessa Brown

Vanessa Brown

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer

School of Art & Design

Staff Group(s)
Academic Division Fashion, knitwear and textile design


Vanessa is currently the course leader for MA Culture, Style and Fashion. She also supervises PhD students and contributes to the department’s Design, Culture, and Context modules, contributing to the lecture programme and supervising undergraduate dissertations.

Career overview

Having started out as a designer  with a first class honours degree in printed textiles and a strong interest in graphics; Vanessa moved into an MA in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, fascinated by what things look like and what they mean. This fascination, combined with a love of writing, and belief in the power of design to shape the world for better or worse, has underpinned her career ever since. Vanessa has worked as a freelance designer, editor of an in-house publication at the University of Wolverhampton; written and published a children’s book, works of cultural journalism, and led the team delivering an innovative contextual studies programme in the fashion, knit and textiles department of NTU School of Art and Design. Recently she has published a book about sunglasses & cool (Cool Shades – the History and Meaning of Sunglasses) and written a taught Masters course (MA Culture, Style and Fashion) which takes a new approach to the study of style cultures.

Research areas

I am active in two NTU research groupings:
Style and Surface

My major area is visual and material style culture. I am interested in the cultural significance of fashions, styles, looks, objects and materials across numerous visual and material fields; products, interiors, graphics, advertising, clothing and accessories, film set, costume, titles and promotion. I am especially interested in the way style is used to narrate identity - both individual and corporate - and the cultural politics of taste and fashion.
I am currently working on projects about coolness: Is it Cool to be Fashionable?; Is Sustainable Fashion Cool? and Modern Cool and the Aesthetic of Impermeability.

External activity

I have had external roles in examining and validating courses with the University of Bolton and the London College of Communication (UAL). I am an occasional journalist for The Conversation and have been a regular interview guest on cultural radio shows locally and internationally.

Press expertise

  • Fashion theory
  • Visual Culture
  • What is "cool"
  • Popular Culture
  • Interior trends