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Dr. Alison Matthews David

Photo of Dr. Alison Matthews David

Graduate Program Director and Professor


  • PhD Art History, Stanford University


Dr. Alison Matthews David is Professor in the School of Fashion at Toronto Metropolitan University. She has a PhD from Stanford University and has published on nineteenth and early twentieth century dress and material culture. She and co-founded and co-edits the open access journal Fashion Studies (external link)  with Dr. Ben Barry. She has a status-only appointment in the Department of Art History at the University of Toronto. She is interested in making the field of fashion history more accessible to the general public.

Dr. Matthews David’s archival and object-based research is centered in collaboration and engages with themes including:

  • History of and ethical issues with labour and production in the fashion industry
  • Fashion curation
  • Health and the Medical Humanities
  • History of colour: natural and synthetic dyestuffs
  • Scientific approaches to dress 
  • The criminalization of the body through dress and adornment
  • Visual and Material Culture 

She loves supervising graduate students at the doctoral level and is a member of the Communication and Culture Program.


Her last research project, Fashion Victims, looked at how clothing physically harmed the health of its makers and wearers. It was published as a book (external link)  in 2015 and has been translated into Mandarin, Japanese, Russian and soon Korean. Fashion Victims also took the form of a co-curated exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto,as well as a co-authored, award-winning book for children 9-12 years old called Killer Style (external link) 

Her current project, Fabric of Crime: Forensic Histories of Fashion, can be found at (external link) . The project investigates the theme of crime and clothing as it relates to histories of identification, deception, damage and exhibition. The project outcomes will include a book for Bloomsbury as well as Exhibit A, a co-curated exhibition on the theme of crime and footwear, with Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator and Creative Director of the Bata Shoe Museum. Exhibit A will open in November 2022.

Fall 2020 (upcoming) Exhibit A on footwear and forensic evidence, Bata Shoe Museum, co-curated with Elizabeth Semmelhack.

2014-2018 Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of 19th Century Dress, Bata Shoe Museum, co-curated with Elizabeth Semmelhack.

 (external link) 
Matthews David, Alison. Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present,
London: Bloomsbury, 2015. (paperback 2017, translated into Russian, Mandarin and

 (external link) 
Matthews David, Alison and Serah-Marie McMahon, Killer Style: How Fashion Has
Injured, Maimed and Murdered Through History
, for 9-12 year old readers, co-authored
with Serah-Marie Macmahon, Owlkids Publishers, Toronto, April 2019.

 (external link) 
Matthews David, Alison. “First Impressions: Footprints as Forensic Evidence in Crime
Fact and Fiction.” Costume: The Journal of the Costume Society (UK), Special Issue in
Honour of June Swann, (University of Edinburgh Press), March 2019, 53:1, 43-66.

 (external link) 
Matthews David, Alison. “Body Doubles: The Origins of the Fashion Mannequin” in
Fashion Studies, Issue 1, June 2018, pp.1-46.

 (external link) 
Matthews David, Alison and Elizabeth Semmelhack. “The Pleasures and Perils of
Collaboration: Researching and Curating the Fashion Victims Exhibition at the Bata
Shoe Museum,” with Elizabeth Semmelhack, in The Musealisation of Fashion, eds.
Güdrun M. König and Gabriele Mentges. Munich and New York: Waxmann, (July 2019).

Matthews David, Alison. “Criminal Fronts and Undercover Cops: Fashioning Deception
Through Dress” in Fashion and Lies Special Issue of Russian Fashion Theory: The
Journal of Dress, Body, and Culture
, 43 (Spring 2017) 213-228.

Matthews David, Alison. “Tainted Love: Oscar Wilde’s Toxic Green Carnation,
Queerness, and Chromophobia” in Colors in Fashion, eds. Jonathan Faiers and Mary
Westerman Bulgarella, London: Bloomsbury, 2016: 127-142.

Matthews David, Alison. “Blazing Ballet Girls and Flannelette Shrouds: Fabric, Fire,
and Fear in the Long Nineteenth Century.” In Emotional Objects Special Issue of Textile:
The Journal of Cloth and Culture
, May 2016, 14:2: 244-267.

Da Silva, E., Matthews David, A. and Pejović-Milić, A. “The quantification of total lead
in lipstick specimens by total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectrometry,” X-ray
, 44, (2015): 451-457.