“Regency-Core” style of the chain of creators and influencers

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This is not historically correct; it’s very designed, ”dress historian Bernadette Banner told her more than one million YouTube subscribers in a year-end video ranking the 2020 costume drama series on their accuracy. Yet anachronisms like Queen Charlotte’s ‘random mid-18th century dress’ in a sea of ​​late 18th-century Empire issues certainly didn’t stop some 82 million viewers tapping into the antics of the world. Regency era of the show she was talking about, Netflix Bridgerton. You’d be hard pressed to find a better way to deter a sweaty sedentary life than a fantastically costumed romantic series. And, fortunately for our collective sartorial pleasure, fashion is at the rendezvous.

It all started at Dior, with Maria Grazia Chiuri hinting at what her spring 2021 couture collection would hold with a chiaroscuro spring ready-to-wear campaign led by Elina Kechicheva who channeled Caravaggio. For tailoring, Chiuri blurred a timeline that stretched from the Renaissance to the Regency, and critics drew comparisons to the hit Netflix series. But, in fact, the collection was actually inspired by a deck of tarot cards, known as the Visconti-Sforza tarot, which Bonifacio Bembo illuminated for the Duke of Milan in the 15th century. Dior himself was a fan of the divinatory arts, and Chiuri paid homage by enlisting artist Pietro Ruffo to create tarot-themed illustrations, which served as the basis for the openwork bas-relief bodices.

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Dior haute couture spring 2021.

INES MANAI

Giambattista Valli was also never one to shy away from dramatic flourishes. For her couture collection, there were the countless yards of tulle and taffeta we’d expect, but the real pitfalls were the skyscraper wigs and Carnival– dignified masks, decorated with bows and flowers. “Haute couture is about gestures of grandeur. Even more this season, when we could no longer organize physical shows, it was important to amplify the volume to the extreme, ”explains Valli. Sixties models Benedetta Barzini and Marisa Berenson were beauty inspirations, but the hair was unmistakably modern-day Marie Antoinette. “We wanted something a little extravagant,” says hairstylist Odile Gilbert, who predicts a slight increase in eccentric looks after the pandemic.

Couture seems an appropriate medium for such a display, given the parallels between this rarefied world and what we consider to be historic dress. As Banner explains, our perspective is inherently biased due to the garments that have survived: elaborate and painstakingly crafted garments in fine fabrics, either as physical artefacts or in portraits that largely represent nobility. More simple, everyday clothes worn by ordinary citizens would have been worn in tatters out of necessity. But the reexamination of everything to do with costumed drama is far from being limited to the runway. Banner, who divides his time between London and his hometown of New York, is one of the many influential figures in historic dress who have predated the buzzy series, being part of a movement that has been simmering for a few years and is proud of it. intricate details, scholarly research, and challenging our received version of the story, such as Bridgerton himself.

cheyney mcknight

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Cheyney McKnight

KELSEY EYEBROWS

Few are as dedicated to questioning long-held prejudices as Cheyney McKnight, founder of Not Your Momma’s History and living history coordinator at the New-York Historical Society. Originally from Atlanta with roots in New York City, McKnight began her examination of the South through a critical lens as a child. “We were visiting plantations for school trips and we were telling these fantastic stories, and I remember [thinking], “It’s BS,” McKnight says. “I knew that the purpose of a plantation was not to be a home but above all a forced labor camp.

“I am fascinated by what the slaves thought of the future, what their hopes and dreams were, how it manifested in the clothes and how I can pay homage.” – Cheyney McKnight

In 2013, McKnight found her calling when she began participating in pageants and was fascinated to learn about people’s perceptions of clothing in the 18th and 19th centuries. “I was told early on that black people only wore cheaper versions of what whites wore,” says McKnight, whose doubt about this notion led her to do research that proved it was. manifestly false. “I discovered that black people in North America still had a very special sense of the West African style that is present to this day. I am fascinated by what the slaves thought of the future, what their hopes and dreams were, how it manifested in the clothes and how I can pay homage. Initially, McKnight was pushed back into the historical community for using her work as a re-enactor to resolve current political issues, not that it deterred her. Last November, she dressed as a slave mother and stood outside the United States Capitol to remind people that children at the border were being held and separated from their parents, speaking of the challenges emancipated individuals have faced. faced after the civil war trying to locate loved ones. .

zack pinsent de pinsent tailoring photographed by alun callender at rodhus pop up studio

Zack Pinsent.

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“It’s wonderful to be able to breathe life into history. – Zack Pinsent

Based in Brighton, England, Zack Pinsent lives and breathes the Regency period. After burning his jeans at 14, the self-taught tailor makes all his own clothes, which he documents for his nearly 370,000 Instagram followers. While the effect may seem elaborate to some, Pinsent insists that her actual wardrobe, like her early 19th-century inspirations, is quite organized. A lot of her outfits aren’t too far removed from, say, the glittering velvet suit worn by Cara Delevingne, who looks utterly dandy, on the Fendi Spring 2021 fashion show, or an inspired party dress. men’s fashion dress from Armani Privé with a face. – coaching col. And it’s hard to imagine calling his Wedgwood blue and white linen hussar summer uniform, which required hand-sewing over 150 yards of trimmings and took over a year to complete, other thing than sewing.

“It’s wonderful to be able to bring history to life,” Pinsent says. “We have our notions of what [it] was and how it is presented, but when you read diaries or look at sample clothing, you realize that people have always been people, with the same desires and weaknesses that we have now.

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Bernadette banner

Courtesy of the subject.

The fact that most contemporary clothing that is not made to the couture level will never become the vintage of tomorrow – it is simply not made to last – presents a challenge to future historians and designers that Banner finds concerning. She is therefore doing her part to fight against disposable fashion. Her YouTube tutorial for a modern adaptation of an Edwardian walking skirt turned out to be one of her biggest hits to date, prompting several viewers to choose needle and thread for the first time. “Suddenly I was getting comments from people who were inspired to hem their own jeans,” Banner says.

Whether educational or purely escapist, historical drama and haute couture are at odds with fast-paced music videos and the hyperconsumerist character of modern society. In Banner’s view, slowly making something by hand is “pouring humanity into a garment.” McKnight has also mixed things up lately, experimenting with Afrofuturist fashion “as a way to honor my ancestors and achieve the future of my people”, and even to dye her own fabrics. Pinsent sums it up quite succinctly: “I’ve always loved dressing up. I mean, what kid doesn’t? Why are we stopping?

This article appeared in the June / July 2021 issue of ELLE.

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