We DJed at the opening of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the V&A. These 1920s men’s shoes are currently on display at the exhibition
When the weather hits scorchio degrees, why not cool off with an evening all about the power of SHOES? This Tuesday at 6.30pm, it’s all about Shoes: From Sport to Sex at the Museum of Curiosities in Hackney. Helen Persson is the curator of the V&A’s summer exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain. The V&A’s shoe collection is unrivalled, spanning the globe and over 2000 years. For the exhibition, Helen has selected a range of shoes from a sandal decorated in pure gold leaf originating in ancient Egypt to futuristic looking shoes created using 3D printing. She will be discussing these displays that explore our obsession with shoes and their cultural importance as identifiers of status, privilege, seduction and sexual preference. Dr Thomas Turner is a historian at London College of Fashion. He’s been fascinated by trainers since getting his first pair of adidas in 1985 and his research examines the history of sports shoes and their links to technology and popular culture. In this talk, Thomas will consider the ancestor of the modern trainer: the Victorian lawn tennis shoe. He will explore how tennis shoes fit into a wider Victorian world of goods and leisure, and consider what this new type of footwear meant to the young men and women who wore them. THIS TUESDAY! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!
For more nautical-but-nice summer activities, head to the Fashion & Textile Museum on Thursday 16th July to hear me talking about the influence of maritime history and clothing on our wardrobe. I’ll be chatting about tailored uniform and sailor suits from the ship to the catwalk, as well as looking at the sailor as a gay icon and the first use of camouflage in fashion. I’ll be tracking nautical trends that we know and love back to their roots in our seafaring past, so come along to hear more! Info and tickets here.
While you’re at the museum, you can also check out my Nautical Chic display, which is part of the Riviera Style show. The exhibition is attracting record numbers of visitors, and as such has just been extended due to popular demand!
The history of the Breton at The Pool; Nautical Chic on sale at the Fashion & Textile Museum
Speaking of all things nautical, I wrote about the history and enduring appeal of the striped Breton top for the fantastic site The Pool. From French fisherman to the catwalks of Paris, via the avant-garde world of the 1920s riviera, this item is a favourite for many people. You can find out why Justine Picardie swears by it, and why stripes used to be known as the Devil’s cloth. Check it out here.
And continuing with the seafaring theme, I recently recorded a feature on the perennial appeal of nautical styles for Radio 4’s ‘You & Yours’. We travel from maritime Greenwich to a yacht-chandler in Covent Garden & beyond, and you can listen again here.
Recording for Radio 4
In other news… The BBC asked me about bowler hats, in a piece to commemorate the favourite headwear of the late Patrick Macnee, AKA John Steed in The Avengers. You can read it here. They also asked me about the enduring popularity of nautical styles for royal children, a tradition which Prince George is continuing. Here it is.
John Steed in his trusty bowler from the BBC; Princess Mary, Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII, and Prince Albert as children from the BBC
I was excited when I was asked to be a guest on the brilliant Londonist podcast! Listen here to hear me chat about some of London’s fashionable quarters, such as Savile Row and the East End, and where to find out more about dress and history across London.
I also reviewed Women in Clothes: Why We Wear What We Wear for Review 31. Click here to read about the power of dress to communicate and work as a language that can illuminate identity, and how successful (or not) the book was at conveying this.
Finally, if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching some short courses at London College of Fashion. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s. And you also get a copy of my first book! It’s running from Tuesday 28th – Friday 31st July, Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th September and Saturdays and Sundays from 7th – 15th November. BOOKING and info HERE.