18 November 2009

Conjuring History

Dress Codes: New Victorians
The New York Times
David Sokosh
Tintype Photographs

One of the main popular debates over Time as a concept is whether its progression is of a linear or cyclical fashion (or indeed another variation), however I think that it is also interesting to think of History in this same way. In the simplest sense History is perhaps linear, indeed it is arguably so when studied, for there is seen a progression from the early centuries to the 21st. Of course that is arguably too simple, for even in the study of History, there is the notion of historiography which questions this concept.

Where fashion is concerned, it is simple to see the notion of cyclical history at work, although obviously not in the strictest sense, for innovation is after all inherent in fashion. History has always provided a wealth of ideas and inspiration, where designers will continually take notes from the past and translate them into the contemporary. Of course there shall always be those who balance the precarious line between costume and dress, where costume refers to historical dress taken out of context, however this in itself is a fascinating visual art.

The cliche statement of fashion being temporary and style being timeless has always intrigued me. For although a style may be in some way timeless, it is taken for granted that the style will still have to fit to the construct of contemporary tastes. Indeed one only need to look at an ostensibly timeless garment such as the man's white shirt. How this would have been worn one hundred years ago contrasts to how it would be worn today, even if the conscious thought of the modern wearing was to emulate that of the past. I believe that context is important because it allows one to understand why the idea of style, and more specifically timeless style, has evolved in the way it has.

I decided to share this editorial from The New York Times, which accompanied this article on the resurgence of a Victorian mood. As my brother would well attest I happen to have a particular fondness for the Victorian period. It is a certain idealised nostalgia, which I feel generations shall always have for the times past even if the everyday realities of those times would not be particularly kind.

I think that being able to hark back to some idea of the past is interesting in itself, for it is more the creation of a past than the actuality of it. Although to some it may appear that looking back is an attempt to mimic, I feel that it is in the fashion world, as in many others, rather a way of creating a new. The literal displacement is not the sought after effect for most, but rather a new understanding and imagining. Indeed I found that these wet plate photographs, created using the authentic tintype process, created a wonderful story and example of the construction of something new from old.

It is arguably impossible to create anything truly new, but for me, a recreation, although it may nod to a past or an older idea, is still essentially something new. Although these images seem to be a mimicking of the past, it is rather a surface illusion, a way of creating an aura of the past rather than the past itself. What I mean by this is that the outfits work in a contemporary context, although the images and the very process of its photography, create the visual illusion of the past. It is the fusion of past and present that makes these images so appealing to me.

The clothing is more accessible than any authentic Victorian portrait photography, however it is the nostalgia of them that allows some type of timeless, historically based quality. By rooting in the past, it creates a mythologized notion of it, which is in itself a new creation. What could be costume, certainly becomes dress, and I can not help but feel a certain desire for a renewal in the idea of Victorian standards of dress - that of comfortable formality and elegance, rather than of complete Victorian dress itself.

Currently playing: World Tour ft. Jazmine Sullivan - Wale

xxxx

20 comments:

  1. Awesome photos. I love them. :)
    I agree with you, recreating is new; it is simply using the past as a way to create something new. These days so many original ideas and concepts are grounded on former ideas. They have to be in order to evolve in this world, in order to create change and move forward. Its the foundation for the future.

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  2. love the photos and its vintage feel...the coats are amazing too!! xx

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  3. Perfeciton!



    If U have a mood, look at my newer giveaway for your mom (maybe)

    X♥X♥

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  4. These photos are awesome! :)

    http://kimvee.blogspot.com

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  5. Adore this vintage quality & portrait photography...simply wonderful DK!
    xo*

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  6. So well done - authentic looking but obviously mod at the same time - lovely post DK!

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  7. i love that you posted these photos! I find myself going back to that article everyday at work and being fascinated by the process of developing the pictures. it's quite amazing.

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  8. The clothing of that period was so beautiful...I love the nods to those styles that we see today!

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  9. As time goes by things are lost and other things are won, but I think that some of the lost things were way more inspiring than what we have nowadays, I say vintage all the way! :)

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  10. I love the historical aspect of it. But you have to remember, mothers and daughters all sewed way back when. Kind of mandatory. I suppose. I had a great grandmother who sewed her husband's underwear. But then I had a grandfather who loved to sew up his own western cut yoked shirts too. He watched his sister and mother sew so much he learned how. And was the one who sewed in the family intead of my grandmother. He liked to cut his own patterns out of newspaper. So he's inspired me. I might sew some pajamma pants for someone special this Christmas. I don't think I could make shirt.

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  11. when will the loin cloth come back? like seriously...i'm so fed up with all the american apparel retro-esque fitness wear. let's pay some homage to our cave guys and gals (well, unless you count jeremy scott's show @ london fashion week...)

    oh my weak attempts at humor, and what a hypocrite i am! (i practically live at american apparel) your article does have a very valid point. humans will just continue to make more use out of or redesign any item whether it's a gardening tool or a t-shirt. even now with a recession going on people are recycling, reducing, reusing, etc. EVERYTHING (hello, thrift stores). thus concluding the longest comment of life.

    :)

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  12. fantastic images, i can never stop fascinating over the victorian decade!

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  13. And yet again another highly interesting post Dapper Kid :) I was also wondering, would you be interested in a link exchange by any chance? xoxo

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  14. The victorian times are fascinating! Thx for this post.

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  15. Great photos. I love the Victorian era. It's one of the most fascinating times to me, whether it's the fashion, literature, etc. I think many periods of time will take aspects of the path and reimagine them. That's just human nature.

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  16. Beautiful vintage look photos!

    I love them all so much:)Esp. the last one <3

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  17. I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only person who enjoys looking at fashion as a facet of a study of history, art history, or sociology. Styles emerge for a reason, whether or not the people wearing them are aware of the source, and recognizing both the trends and the reasoning gives one a greater understanding and appreciation of day-to-day existence in the past.
    Your observation of our creation of a third, separate and new style or actuality is really intriguing!

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  18. quite interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter.

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  19. Hi everyone, thanx a lot fr this blog .... This is what I was looking for.

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