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:
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.
Picture 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.
Bridget, 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!