Starting on 12th September and continuing over 4 weeks, this fun and fascinating virtual tour series will examine the significance, magnificence and evolution of fashion through the ages.
Hear! Hear! Here’s an audio taster. It’s an excerpt – just the audio not the visuals – from Part I (the series opener). It went out as the London Walks weekly podcast on September 17.
With a main focus on paintings, we also look at tapestries, armour, theatre costume, prints and photographs to help us see how fashions change over the centuries, from the power dressing of the Tudors to the elegance of the Edwardians.
An examination of fashion in art gives us a richer understanding of politics, social history, literature, developments in technology, transport and just about every aspect of life in a given era. What a subject is wearing can tell us a great deal about them in terms of class, role and gender, as well as the cultural and social attitudes of the time.
How often do we look at people in art and think
- “What are they wearing? “
- “Why (or how?) did they wear that?” Or perhaps…
- “Did they really wear that?”
Join Simon for the answers to your questions and much, much more on this fabulous fashion journey! Scroll down for series summary.
This is a virtual tour series via Zoom. Each tour takes place at 5 pm on four consecutive Sundays from 12th September to 3rd October.
Tickets are £32 per person for the series. Public tours are normally £10 per person per tour, and therefore this series represents a fantastic 20% savings!
Recordings from each week will be available. In this way, if you miss one week, you can still catch up and enjoy the entire series. These recordings will be available until one month after the conclusion of the series.
WEEK ONE – The Tudors: Power, Politics & Propaganda
WEEK TWO – The Sumptuous Stuarts: Decoration, Disorder & Decadence
WEEK THREE – The Gorgeous Georgians: Age of Elegance & Excess
WEEK FOUR – The Victorians: Invention, Industry & Innovation
For further details of each week, please see below…
The Tudors: Power, Politics & Propaganda
Starting in the late Middle Ages, we’ll examine how tapestries & tomb sculptures can give us vital clues as to what people are wearing before the evolution of portraiture.
We then move on to the court portraits of Hans Holbein who depicted the sumptuous fashions at the court of Henry VIII.
The resplendent clothing of the Tudor court was intrinsically woven into power, politics and propaganda, and Henry VIII was considered to be ‘the finest dressed sovereign in the world’! We’ll then examine the extensive wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth I (and discover where to see her corset!)
Also in this session:
- the strict sumptuary laws & why going to see Shakespeare was like going to the catwalk!
- the evolution of the codpiece & the origin of ‘pin money’
- what did everyday folk wear and how EXACTLY did they keep their clothes clean (the answer may surprise you!)
The Sumptuous Stuarts: Decoration, Disorder and Decadence
In our second session, we’ll move into the Stuart era. The first quarter of the 17th century continued the Tudor fashion trends, but became so over-elaborate that a tipping point was reached.
Despite a brief interruption to the monarchy (and a more austere style of dress) fashion marched onward. A new age of excess arrived with the Restoration! As with Holbein and Henry VIII, we see how another foreign artist, Anthony Van Dyck, introduced a new style of portrait with shimmering silks and satins.
Also in this session:
- what to wear to an execution
- the expansion of London outside the City & its impact on fashion
- unusual beauty tips from Mrs Samuel Pepys (dog lovers look away now!)
The Gorgeous Georgians: Age of Elegance & Excess
The 18th century sees royalty taking a back seat in fashion whilst the “middling sort” lead the fashion trends.
We see the continued impact of France and the Rococo style, and the age of celebrity as depicted by Gainsborough and Reynolds. But then as we move into the 18th century, Rococo gives way to Neo-Classicism and the classical simplicity of Greek statuary with diaphanous white muslin, as exemplified by the trend-setting Duchess of Devonshire (the first woman to wear the ‘chemise’ dress!).
Royalty influences fashion once again by the late 1700s with the Prince of Wales and the original ‘dandy’ Beau Brummell, who changes male fashion forever.
Also in this session:
- the age of ‘big hair’ & why Yankee Doodle had a feather in his cap called “macaroni”
- why fans were the text messages of the 18th century
- what fashion accessory was sold in a famous shop on Carey Street in London?
The Victorians: Invention and the Industry of Fashion
In the fourth and final week we’ll discover the impact of the Industrial Revolution and how the mechanisation of textiles had a major impact on fashion.
Cotton fabrics were now being spun, woven and printed in Britain which made them affordable and washable. Alongside, however, we’ll also examine the darker side of the clothing industry and the terrible conditions of those (often children) who worked long hours in the sweatshops of the industrial north in order to meet the demands of a burgeoning population.
As we finally move into the early 20th century, it seems appropriate that we end with the suffragettes’ fight to win the vote, which also became a fight for women’s freedom in many other ways – including how to dress!
Also in this session:
- the extraordinary ‘lengths’ to which women went to establish the hourglass figure
- the horrors and hazards of the cage crinoline
- how the Pre-Raphaelite artists created icons of fashion subversion?
- the Victorian cult of mourning following the death of Prince Albert
- the development of photography and how Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde used fashion for publicity.
Sharon Ashe –
Wow! So much information and entertainment packed into 4 lovely weeks. Simon takes the virtual walk to new heights! Bravo!! If British history, especially viewing history through paintings, is at all interesting to you then this series is a must in my opinion.
I have taken many London Walks both in person and virtual. I have enjoyed them all but this series was special.
Nora Odendahl –
Pure pleasure! Simon’s tour of fashion from the medieval to Edwardian eras is both enlightening and immensely enjoyable. Informed by a deep knowledge of costume history, this series brings to life not only the evolution of styles but also the cultural and technological phenomena that gave rise to different fabrics, silhouettes, ornamentation, and hair arrangements. I looked forward to each installment with great anticipation and hope that there will be a sequel as well!
For all those who miss London terribly: These walks are almost as good as being there! As for this particular series: It gives you an entertaining and educating view into many fascinating chapters of British culture. Time flies when you listen to Simon and enjoy the wonderful material he has prepared for you. It’s truly a special gem in London Walks’ vast vault of jewellry!!
Rhonda Cleveland –
I’m really enjoying the fabulous fashion series! So informative and amazing little details that Simon adds in, not only about fashion but about the lives of the rich and famous too. I highly recommend watching.