Phoenix Thomas | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Phoenix Thomas

Project Title

Bringing Queer to the Masses: Overcoming hegemonic modes of representation in costume design


Dr. Stephen Farrier


As a costume designer, I feel that the central purpose of my work is to craft visual representation of subjects through sartorial signification.

If standard modes of practice demand the representation of the subject in binary gendered terms which comply neatly with the dominant hegemony of the heterosexual matrix, where does this place the queer subject?

This practice-based research seeks to address this question, not in the definitive, reductive terminology of the hegemony, but rather in spite of it. Furthermore, from establishing such knowledge it aspires to formulate strategies for queer modes of practice resistant to the normalising influences of appropriation, suppression and assimilation.


Trained as a costume designer and maker at the London College of Fashion, UAL, Phoenix has enjoyed some rewarding and challenging professional experience during her short time as a freelance costumier. But from designing and making the central costume for the Paralympic handover ceremony at the Birds Nest Stadium, Beijing, to the smaller scale burlesque/cabaret work which constitutes much of her portfolio, an academic appreciation for the social politics which have informed her vocational work have demanded some acute critical evaluation, leading to a years study of Gender and Media at the University of Sussex, and ultimately provoking this PhD research project.