The curators of the popular V&A Museum exhibitions on Christian Dior and Mary Quant in London are among the line-up of expert speakers appearing at York Festival of Ideas.

Oriole Cullen, curator of the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition and Jenny Lister, co-curator of Mary Quant, will take to the stage at the York Festival of Ideas Focus Day, A Date with History: Food, fashion and feminism, on Saturday 15 June.

Presented in collaboration with the French Embassy in the UK, the Focus Day will include a series of talks looking at how the iconic symbols of French and British culture - fashion, food and feminism – define our national identity.

The Focus Day will also feature speakers including Michelin-star chef Frances Atkins of The Yorke Arms (one of the few Michelin starred chefs in the UK); Farid Chenoune of the Institut Français de la Mode; Loïc Bienassis of the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food; Sylvie Chaperon of the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès; and chef Josh Overington of Le Cochon Aveugle restaurant in York.

Taking place at the Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum, the Focus Day – which is free to attend - is the Festival’s third annual Franco-British collaboration. Alice Béja, Higher Education and Research Attachée with the French Embassy in the UK, is curating the event.

Alice Béja said: “From the notion of ‘haute couture’, to the integral part cooking and food have played in the cultural history of France and Britain, to the deconstruction of gender stereotypes, our speakers will offer some fascinating insights into fashion, food and feminism on both sides of the Channel.

“The Focus Day is a chance to discover the many surprising ways in which we enjoy a shared cultural heritage and the transformations taking place today.”

The French Embassy in the UK is also working in partnership with the Festival to present several other events.  A panel discussion on Fighting for Women’s Rights in France and the UK will look at the major achievements of the feminist movement and the issues it faces today on Friday 14 June. There will also be film screenings of two documentaries in French with English subtitles -The Goddesses of Food on Monday 10 June and Carole Roussopoulos, Une Femme à la Caméra on Tuesday 11 June.

York Festival of Ideas runs from 4 June to 16 June and will present over 200 mostly free events under the banner of A World of Wonder.  Established and coordinated by the University of York, the Festival features world-class speakers, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks, family-friendly activities and more.

Other Festival Focus Days will explore complex issues including toleration, the future of Artificial Intelligence, how to deliver a fair economy for all and how to change the way we talk about poverty. Audiences will also have the chance to join in with discussions about the value of higher education to society and the relationship between creativity and science.

Last year’s York Festival of Ideas attracted an audience of over 40,000 and was the winner of the Outstanding Cultural Festival (Large) at the York Culture Awards. It scooped the award for Best Cultural Event or Festival the previous year.

Find out more about York Festival of Ideas and book tickets at

Notes to editors:

  • Throughout the Festival, a number of free Focus Days are dedicated to events on a certain theme. People can come along for one event or stay for the whole day.
  • The Festival Focus Day, A Date with History: Food, fashion and feminism, is presented in collaboration with the Higher Education, Research and Innovation (HERI) Department of the French Embassy in the UK.

Media Information: Caron Lett 01904 322064
7 June 2019