When my friend Liz sent me details of Buying Luxury, Acquiring Style, a talk on Georgian fashion and menswear at the British Library, my interested was piqued. I find the Georgian period fascinating (mainly down to Georgette Heyer novels: all those duplicitous cads and scoundrels in their splendid silks) and I'm rather partial to finding out whatever I can about gents trousers. Could this possibly get any better? Yes it could. The talk was co-hosted by menswear guru and GBSB hottie Patrick Grant!!! The deal was immediately sealed and we hot footed it to the British Library on Monday evening.
The talk started with co-host Dr Hannah Greig, a specialist in 18th Century British history, who discussed the concept of 18th Century fashion - the Beau Monde.
She described how attention to detail was paid not just to clothes, but also shoes (£3 million diamond shoe buckles anyone?!), swords, fans and snuffboxes. I also learnt that as a fashionable person in the 18th century, you would have had a direct role in commissioning your own clothes, dictating the style, colour, choice of ribbons etc. Very different from today, where the power appears to lie with designers rather than the individual. Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to be able to make your own clothes….! Hannah Greig obviously knew her stuff and to be honest, I could have listened to her all night. But she only had limited time available and had to make way for Patrick.
Ah Patrick, tall, debonair and sporting a sharply cut First World War-style haircut, he was a delight to
watch listen to. He talked engagingly about the historical resources he'd used as inspiration for his latest menswear collections. Drawing influences from the Bayeux Tapestry, heraldic imagery and Hogarth's The Rake's Progress (after the Rake has come into money and starts hanging out with tailors and musicians). Again, I could have listened to him all night…. but it was difficult to pack every single topic into the allocated hour and a bit. Sadly, I didn't find out the story behind the three piece suit, which was the bit I was most looking forward to. But it's actually spurred me on to look it up myself, unless anybody would care to enlighten me?
The talk accompanies the British Library's new exhibition - The Georgians Revealed - which looks amazing and runs until 11th March 2014. Liz and I will definitely be back to learn all we can about gambling dens, coffee houses, shopping and celebrity - not much different from modern London in fact!
Right, cultural interlude over, next up: a party dress! x