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A few months ago I was going through some boxes in my attic
when I came across this dress. And I actually made this
when I was a 20-year-old student at university
to wear to my end-of-year ball.
I'm not a fashion designer and I'm only an amateur dressmaker
and you can see that I based it on this pattern,
which is by a American designer called Badgley Mischka,
and it's published by Vogue.
But this is not talk all about me and my amateur dressmaking abilities,
I want to talk about how fashion has become more democratic
over the last 400 years or so.
And I'm going do that by comparing my dress here
to some paintings all in the Royal Collection.
By more democratic I'm taking that to mean
fashion has become available to a broader section of society
and it's more open to individual choice.
So the first point to be made is that the majority of fabrics
were simply unavailable to the majority of the population
in the 16th and 17th century.
It was the materials that drove the cost of clothing,
not the labour involved in, for example, the tailor making them up.
And even the very rich, so Henry VIII for example,
recycled his clothing and tailored them and changed them as fashions changed.
It's not an exaggeration to say that in Shakespeare's time
a high-quality man's cloak could cost more than a house,
and clothes were far more expensive than paintings.
So if you look at this painting here of Charles I,
we've already heard about him, with his family,
Charles in this painting is wearing a suit that probably cost around a £150,
we know that from his wardrobe inventories,
but the painting only cost £100 and it's by van Dyke.
Van Dyke's just arrived from Antwerp,
he's one of the most famous artists working at this time,
and the clothes that you see cost more than the painting.
The painting is huge as well, it's a major commission,
and it only cost £100.
Charles spent approximately £5000 a year on clothes,
and that wasn't even seen as particularly extravagant.
He was criticized for many things,
but his clothing extravagance wasn't one of them.
So if we turn to my dress, the fabric for this cost £10,
I found it in a remnant basket in a fabric shop in Lewisham.
Fabrics are so much cheaper nowadays
because we can get synthetic fibres
that can imitate the more expensive fibres such as silk,
which is what this is, and also the processes of mechanization
mean that weaving and dying are much quicker
and don't have to be done by hand.
Moreover, today you can be fashionable without wearing expensive materials.
So in the 16th and 17th century to be fashionable,
you really had to wear the most expensive silks,
and they usually came from Italy.
Nowadays though, you don't have to be particularly expensive
in your fabric choice in order to be fashionable.
So, for example, the trend towards vintage clothing
positively emphasizes being thrifty,
and people are proud of buying something for a cheap price.
And even high-end designers often use cheap fabrics
like cheap undyed cotton like this t-shirt that I'm wearing here today,
as a fashion item, as a backdrop for their logo
or for a charitable message, like this t-shirt's for breast cancer,
or as a political slogan.
White t-shirts, also, have remained a fashion basic,
so Vogue every year seems to proclaim the importance of a white t-shirt
or a white vest as a fashion basic.
So imagine you were a merchant in Elizabethan times
and you'd made your money, you were an up-and-coming member
of the middle-class society, and you'd made your money
importing something new like pepper.
Even if you wanted to display how wealthy you were through your clothing,
and that's, let's face it, one of the best ways of doing it,
you might not have been allowed to wear exactly what you wanted to wear.
And that's due to the presence of what are called sumptuary laws.
These specified exactly what fabric, what colours, and what types of garments
you could wear at every level in society. So, for example,
an earl would be allowed to wear different things to a duke.
These weren't a new thing, they'd been around since ancient Rome,
so the emperor was the only person allowed to wear a toga
dyed with Tyrian purple, a very expensive dye,
extracted from sea snails.
But in the 16th century they really reached their apogee,
Henry VIII and Elizabeth I loved sumptuary laws,
and they kept releasing new ones throughout the century.
And I think that's due to the fact that the 16th century
really sees the rise of this new merchant class,
who were able to imitate their superiors
or the nobility because they had the money to do so.
I'm going talk about sumptuary laws through this painting
which is a portrait of Elizabeth as a princess,
so she's probably only about 14 years old here.
And I'm going to talk about some of the fabrics that she's wearing
and exactly where they fit into the sumptuary laws.
So, she's wearing a gown, it's probably of silk
and it's been dyed with red.
And the red here probably comes from cochineal,
which is created by crushing insects
and it was imported from South America during the 16th century.
The Spaniards really controlled its distribution in Europe,
and they really held a monopoly, it was such an expensive dye,
it became a real target for piracy.
She's also, if you look closely,
you can see on this detail that I've blown up here,
the fabrics seems to have been woven with metal threads,
so imagine a piece of fabric, it has threads running up and down
and then threads running from side to side which are known as the weft threads.
And this one, as well as having the red silk,
it has metal threads here which are probably of real gold.
So imagine a gold coin that's been flattened, hammered,
many times to make it really thin,
and it's then been cut into strips which are wrapped around a silk core
and then that's used to weave into the clothing.
So you're literally wearing real gold here.
It's extraordinarily heavy and it could even be melted down;
if times got particularly hard you could turn your clothes back into gold bullion.
So, that's why there are so few surviving of this type of fabric,
we only have really tiny samples.
So both of those things, the red dye and the fabrics woven with gold thread
were strictly limited to the nobility.
You weren't allowed to wear them if you weren't born into that class.
However, Elizabeth wants to say something else;
she wants to say that she's royal.
And she's doing that through, you can see the red fabrics
on the right of this detail and then there's another fabric here on the left,
this makes up what's called her forepart here
which is at the front of the skirt.
And that fabric's been woven from silver thread
and then it has these tiny little loops of gold thread coming up;
you can just about see them, the artist taking great care
to depict them really carefully.
And you could only wear this,
which at this time was called cloth of silver tissued with gold,
if you're a member of the royal family.
So she's making a very conscious statement here
about exactly where she fits into society.
So lets turn again to my dress.
I was allowed to wear whatever colour I wanted,
any type of fabric, any type of garment,
there weren't any dress restrictions on me.
In terms of colour, this dress, it might not be very clear to see,
but it's actually a very dark blue
and in terms of 16th and 17th century dyes it's most close to indigo.
Which was another expensive dye, imported from India
and again limited to the nobility.
If you were someone of my status, I'd classify myself as middle class,
you'd have to make do with woad instead, which chemically related to indigo,
but it was found in Britain, it was much cheaper,
it was much less colourfast, so it would wash out more quickly,
and it produced a much less intense colour.
I think it's really interesting that we've sort of come full circle,
so the synthetic version of indigo is actually used still
to dye one of the most democratic, I think, items of clothing, blue jeans.
I'm wearing my version of democratic clothing, here, today, in front of you.
Synthetic indigo produces the full range of colours for blue jeans.
Blue jeans have their origins, incidentally, in 19th century men's working clothing,
so again, it's moving that working-class dress
to spread across all different countries, ages, genders and social classes.
So, the next point to make is that when I put my dress on
I didn't have to have any help to get into it,
I simply put it on and zipped it up, it was very simple.
But that's definitely not true for someone like Anne of Denmark.
To get into what she's wearing here would have required lots of help,
and it would have taken a really long time.
I'm going show you some of the ways that she's showing that through her dress.
So, she's wearing a skirt, and that skirt before she put it on,
it would probably have been a pretty simple strip of fabric,
and it's been put over what's called a farthingale,
so that gives it this sort of drum-like shape,
and each of the pleats that you can see around her waist would have been set
everyday and pinned into place by her maidservant.
It would be nothing without that, and she'd have to do that every day.
Other features to draw attention to are:
the fact that she has had her hair set over a wire frame,
jewels set into it, she's wearing a bracelet
that it's actually impossible to tie yourself,
someone would have needed to do that for her,
and her sleeves would have needed to be tied into the shoulder,
they actually would've been separate probably at this time.
So this is all telling us that she needs servants, she can afford servants,
and she has lots of spare time to spend on her appearance,
and she has no need to labour outside or do anything useful like work
and that also is showing by her very pale skin,
which was the most fashionable type of skin until the 20th century,
a suntan not being popular until it began to represent
the fact that you could go abroad and could afford holidays.
So, the pace of change of fashion
has change dramatically over the last 400 years.
That's due to better communication, so we can spread ideas more quickly,
and also due to better methods of production.
The sewing machine, just to go back to my dress,
was a major change in the 19th century
that meant that even amateur dressmakers could translate designer clothing
into their own version without the £500 price tag:
Badgley Mischka - that's the average price of one of their gowns.
Taking this into the digital age, companies like Cubify
have created what are called 3D printers.
So this is the next step after sewing machines;
you can create your own shoes
and change the size or the colour or the details,
and print it in your own home,
so I wonder if this is where the production of fashion is going next.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as having these laws set out
about exactly what you could wear, you also had these social etiquette rules
that weren't necessarily laid in stone but that everyone adhered to.
And I'm going to give you one example, which is that of hat honour.
And in this painting which shows Charles II,
we've heard about him earlier as well,
he's actually wearing a hat in this painting,
and everyone else, apart from the members of his family, have taken their hats off.
Removing your hat was a mark of deference to your social superiors
and to not do so would have meant real trouble.
So the other members of his family, he's got his two brothers and his nephew,
and they all still have their hats on.
Everyone else has taken theirs off;
there's actually one just here in the shadows,
and another man up there is holding his,
the artist being very careful to depict the fact
that this hat etiquette is being adhered to.
I didn't have to wear a hat with my ball gown,
but there are still occasions, we've seen at Ascot
that a hat is the expected attire for women.
And remnants of hat honour still exist today,
so a man going into church or attending a funeral
will generally remove his hat as a mark of respect.
So, I hope I've given you some ideas of how fashion's become more democratic,
it's no longer limited to the elite,
you can be fashionable in cheap clothes that are quick to put on,
and there's much more choice available.
Even though the fashion press can sometimes seem quite dictatorial
using terms like "must haves for this season",
there aren't actually any laws any more
about exactly what you must wear or must not wear,
in the Western world at least.
However, we do still face some unspoken societal customs,
so the male business suit which is such an important part of the male wardrobe
for the majority of people working in a professional environment,
and most MP's and politicians do stick to that as well.
Even dress-down Fridays are sort of renowned for their uniformity of dress.
So I've been wondering if politicians
would better represent their enthusiasm for democracy
and perhaps better represent the people that they serve
by being more varied in their dress.
Maybe we've seen this in newsreaders over the last 10 years with the loss of tie,
are they trying to be more like the people they represent?
However, I'm a little concerned that as a country
I don't think we're quite ready for it yet.
Just think of the response to some news articles
where there were photographs of politicians taken in their own time,
in their free time, on holiday,
and the kind of weird reaction we have to seeing them perhaps wearing jeans.
Indeed many people equate being dressed smartly with being confident;
so we have confidence in people when they dress smartly
and we think that they have more confidence themselves.
I was actually a bit worried coming to speak to you today
wearing jeans and t-shirt, and I wondered if it would affect my performance,
would I still be able to think as clearly as I would if I were more smartly dressed.
In the Royal Collection we don't wear jeans even on Fridays.
I've heard of a tutor who recommended to his students
that rather than cram on the morning of an exam
they should spend the time instead getting very smartly dressed,
spend time on their appearance, because he equated
being physically prepared with being mentally prepared.
So, I wonder, do politicians feel that their clothes
affect their performance at all.
Is their uniformity in clothing, does it have an impact on their willingness
to perhaps break away from what everyone else is saying and thinking,
and does it have any effect on that?
Is the blue and red tie convention a help or a hindrance?
Thank you.
(Applause)
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【TEDx】民主化的時尚 (Democratising Fashion: Anna Reynolds at TEDxHousesofParliament)

8118 分類 收藏
阿多賓 發佈於 2014 年 2 月 28 日
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