With the bank holiday a total wash out, there’s no better way to embrace the coming of autumn than by booking yourself into my LAST EVER event at the Museum of Curiosities on 15th September. And I am going out with a bang, as you are all invited to an immersive history into Sex, Scent and Curious Cosmetics. Odette Toilette is a lifelong fragrance fan who has been changing the way we think about scent through her cult events, ranging from sniffable history talks to perfumed tours of art galleries. In advance of her first book, A Century of Scents in 100 Perfumes, (Hutchinson, October 2015), Odette will invite you to experience the 20th century in perfume form. Discover the strange tales of maverick entrepreneurs ‘scent bombing’ American cities in the 1940s, and Edwardian actresses using perfume to gear up for their salacious roles on the stage. Julian Walker is a writer and artist who leads workshops at the British Library. His talk, A View of the History of Cosmetics, is drawn from research for his book, The Finishing Touch: Cosmetics Through The Ages – a curious, sometimes uncomfortable history of the human need to look beautiful. Among the bizarre recipes and grotesque commercial innovations featured are a facewash based on boiled and minced pigeons and ways to prevent mice-infestation in wigs. 15th September at 6.30pm.
Signed copies of Julian Walker’s The Finishing Touch & How to Cure the Plague (British Library) will be on sale. Get your TICKETS HERE!
In nautical-but-nice news, I am continuing to do the sartorial hornpipe around the country. Join me on 22nd September at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth where I’ll be looking at the relationship between maritime dress and the fashionable wardrobe, and tracing the evolution of the style back to its roots in our seafaring past. There will also be a chance to preview rare uniforms from the Museum collection, and it is part of a number of fashion events the museum is putting on, so get your sailor style ready! TICKETS and INFO here.
On 26th September I’ll be getting uncharacteristically outdoorsy for Pioneer Festival at the Hackney Picturehouse. The festival will be looking at everything from the sartorial excellence of Everest climbers to So-Cal skaters, and taking in iconic adventurers, sea shanties and wildmen in between with a series of films, talks and events inspired by the epic outdoors. Join me for a visual tour of Nautical Chic where I’ll be exploring why the high seas remain our most enduring sartorial inspiration. Tickets HERE.
And in a break from all things nautical, on 17th September I’ll be discussing the Story of Haute Couture for London Art Studies, from the Sun King in the early 18th century to the ‘Golden Age’ of postwar couture. Tickets here!
On bank holiday Monday I was part of a special edition of Women’s Hour with Men’s Hour on Radio 4 & 5Live investigating appearance and body image. Other guests were broadcaster Caryn Franklin, casting director Jody Furlong, academic Philippa Dietrich and Glen Jankowski who is completing a PhD on male body image. We discussed everything from the effect of social media on self-esteem to Henry VIII’s calves. You can listen again here.
At Broadcasting House with Tim Samuels, Jody Furlong, Caryn Franklin and Jane Garvey. Paperdoll created by Lou Taylor
The fantastic jeweller, illustrator and paper artist Lou Taylor has recreated some of my wardrobe in paper! Pieces from Beyond Retro, the Rodnik Band and Terry de Havilland have been rendered in eye-popping paper cutouts. See more about it here and check out her fantastic jewellery, scarves and other exciting pieces (including her Carmen Miranda brooch!) here.
I also spoke about 1940s wartime fashions on Dancing Through the Blitz: Blackpool’s Big Band Story presented by Lucy Worsley, Len Goodman and Jools Holland. Blackpool was one of the few resorts that remained open during the war, and it’s also one of my favourite places so it was great being involved in a show that examined the social history behind the resort and the music that kept the nation’s spirits up through the Second World War. It’s still available to watch here for a few more days.
I’ve been enjoying the BBC Radio 4 Natural Histories series very much so was excited when they asked me to talk about crocodile leather and all things croco-style for their upcoming Crocodiles episode. It will air on the 29th September, and keep posted here for more info.
Snappy dressers: satirical fashion print mocking the fashions that followed Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 (National Maritime Museum); Holzer ad from 1946
And if you or anyone you know is keen to brush up on fashion history, I’m teaching my short course again 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 Saturdays and Sundays from 7th – 15th November. BOOKING and info HERE.
Finally, I may be a bit quiet for the next few months as I’m working on an exciting new project on film & fashion for next year. More info to come, but for now it’s time to celebrate like Auntie Mame! Until next time!