Newsflash: Sailor Chic & October Events

sailorAll the nice girls love a sailor

I have been rather quiet here of late, but I can assure you it’s with good reason as I have some very exciting news. I’ve been swashbuckling my way through our seafaring past because over the summer I was commissioned to write a book on the History of Nautical Style. I’ve been spending many happy hours looking at pictures of fishermen and sailors and reading books about pirates and Lord Nelson to trace the story of maritime clothing in fashionable dress.

The sartorial influence of sailors and the seaside has been a research interest of mine since it was the subject of my MA dissertation, so I’m delighted to be turning it into a book.

It’s not due for publication until Spring 2015, but to whet your appetite here are some of the gems I’ve been unearthing:


However, I’m not a complete hermit as I’m involved in a couple of events this month. The first is this Saturday 12th October: the London Day of the Dead, part of the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge.

I’m giving a talk called ‘Dresses to Die For’ on the Victorian cult of mourning – funereal fashion at its finest. I’ll be covering mourning warehouses (Maisons de Deuil), etiquette and jewellery with a brief history of black in fashion.

The day’s programme is jam-packed with activities ranging from the morbid to the macabre, from the Highgate Vampire to holographic graveyards. The Museum of London’s curator of osteology will be uncovering some of London’s skeletal remains, and you can meet an undertaker and take part in workshops on making Death Masks and creating your Last Will and Testament.

Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge runs from 11th-13th October. For the full programme see here, and for the London Day of the Dead listings at 33 Fitzroy Square check Antique Beat.

1878Picture c. 1878, The Burns Archive

UPDATE: On Friday 25th October I will be hosting an ‘In Conversation’ at the V&A with Professor Wendy Dagworthy, as part of their Back to the 80s: Club to Catwalk Friday Late. Join us from 7.15pm in the Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre to hear about Wendy’s career as a designer, one of the founders of London Fashion Week and subsequently as one of London’s most inspirational fashion professors. FREE but arrive early!


On 30th October I’m delighted to be involved with a University of the Arts conference entitled Mirror Mirror: Representations and Reflections on Age and Ageing.

I’m chairing a panel of inspirational older women comprised of Bridget, Daphne, Jean and Sue who recently featured in the acclaimed documentary Fabulous Fashionistas – if you haven’t seen it yet you’re missing out!

The conference will also feature Ari Seth Cohen of the excellent Advanced Style blog, and other speakers include Professor Julia Twigg discussing representations of age in the media, and Professor Roberta Mock who will be giving a paper on the ways in which comedians such as Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr subvert our expectations of older women.

29th & 30th October. Get your tickets here.

FFBridget, Jean and Sue of Fabulous Fashionistas

Finally, last week I was on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour again, this time discussing shoe history and lamenting my stunted stature with Jane Garvey. You can listen again here from about 37 minutes in.

Italian chopine, late 16th century, found at the Met Museum

And just before that I was interviewed for a London Fashion Week special on Radio 4’s You and Yours. You can listen here from about 35 minutes. I also featured on the SHOWstudio panel for the super fun Moschino 30th anniversary show, along with some other colourful ladies such as Fred Butler, Kim Howells and Anna Trevelyan. You can watch it here – *SPOILER ALERT* Gloria Gaynor also features!

ss yy

About Amber Butchart

Amber Butchart is a fashion historian working across cultural heritage, broadcasting and academia. She has contributed to numerous productions for the BBC, Sky Arts and Channel 4, from Making History and Woman’s Hour to Great British Sewing Bee, and she presents a regular ‘In Conversation’ series at the V&A museum covering areas from Shakespeare to David Bowie. Her latest book 'Nautical Chic' is the first ever book to chart the history of high style on the high seas - looking at the influence of maritime dress and history on our wardrobes - and has been featured everywhere from Grazia and Glamour to The Telegraph, The Guardian and CNN. She is an Associate Lecturer in Cultural & Historical Studies at London College of Fashion, and has given public talks as far afield as Dubai and Ukraine. Shot by Vogue as a girl with great British style, her interest in antique clothing was ignited by working as Head Buyer for vintage clothing company Beyond Retro, and for 5 years she was a regular contributor to leading trend analysis company WGSN. She has also worked with top brands such as GHD, TK Maxx and YSL Beauté, providing her historical expertise on their public campaigns. As the red-haired half of the Radio Academy Award-nominated DJ duo The Broken Hearts, she has graced stages across the globe for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton, and has co-presented weekly shows for Jazz FM and QRadio. A former Research Fellow at the University of the Arts London, Amber is regularly asked to speak on fashion and cultural history, and has done so at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, British Museum, Royal Academy, British Library, Wellcome Collection, Design Museum, British Film Institute, and is a regular on the SHOWstudio fashion week panels. She is a member of the Royal Historical Society and the Association of Dress Historians.
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10 Responses to Newsflash: Sailor Chic & October Events

  1. That’s such exciting news about the book! I already have a ticket for the Mirror Mirror conference too – looking forward to that :-)

  2. Congratulations on the book! I’m eagerly awaiting its publication.

  3. Jilly says:

    Can’t wait for your book, I love nautical fashion. And, I must say I think Ari Set Cohen has done more for the Aging Awesomely than anything. I always find it interesting when people hold Cher or the like as an example of someone who is aging great. But, I better stop or I may go on a rant. Love your blog and look forward to investigating the links you provided.

  4. Pingback: Newsflash: Book Out in February! And Upcoming Events | Theatre of Fashion

  5. Viktor Wynd says:

    ooh can’t wait to read it – Stephen Tennant loved all things nautical – as it combined his two favourite words naughty and tickle

  6. Pingback: Newsflash: Puttin’ on the Glitz at the British Library | Theatre of Fashion

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