(Roughly) Daily

“I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man”*…

 

From a delightful piece called the “Future Dictates of Fashion” by W. Cade Gall and published in the January 1893 issue of The Strand magazine. On the premise that a book from a hundred years in the future (published in 1993) called The Past Dictates of Fashion has been inexplicably found in a library, the article proceeds to divulge this book’s contents – namely, a look back at the last century of fashion, which, of course, for the reader in 1893, would be looking forward across the next hundred years into the future. In this imagined future, fashion has become a much respected science (studied in University from the 1950s onwards) and is seen to be “governed by immutable laws”.

The designs themselves have a somewhat unaccountable leaning toward the medieval, or as John Ptak astutely notes, “a weird alien/Buck Rogers/Dr. Seuss/Wizard of Oz quality” to them. If indeed this was a genuine attempt by the author Gall to imagine what the future of fashion might look like, it’s fascinating to see how far off the mark he was, proving yet again how difficult it is to predict future aesthetics. It is also fascinating to see how Gall envisaged the progression of fashions across the decades – considering that, from our perspective now, his vision of 1970 doesn’t much look much different to 1920 – and to see which aspects of his present he wasn’t even able to consider losing to the march of time (e.g. the long length of women’s skirts and the seemingly ubiquitous frill). As is often the case when we come into contact with historic attempts to predict a future which for us is now past, it is like glimpsing into another possible world, a parallel universe that could have been (or which, perhaps, did indeed play out “somewhere”)…

Read more (and see more) at “Fashions of the Future as Imagined in 1893.”  Then read a full transcript of Gall’s piece at Forgotten Futures or in its original context on Internet Archive.

* Shakespeare: Conrade, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, Scene 3

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As we worry through our wardrobes, we might send slightly subversive birthday greetings to Henry Fielding; he was born on this date in 1707.  Fielding began his literary career as a dramatist, writing plays savagely satirical of the government of Sir Robert Walpole– so critical, in fact, that they led to the imposition of the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737– which effectively outlawed satire on stage, and ended Fielding’s career in the theater.

Fielding became a barrister, but continued to pen satires of current politics and culture, first “printed plays” (published, but unperformed) like The Tragedy of Tragedies (for which Hogarth designed the frontispiece), then prose.  He wrote for Tory publications; then, in anger at the success of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, Fielding took to writing novels in 1741 and had his first major success– Shamela, an anonymous parody of Richardson’s melodramatic novel.  He followed up with Joesph Andrews.  But his greatest work was Tom Jones, the meticulously-constructed picaresque that tells the convoluted and hilarious tale of a foundling finding his fortune.

Interestingly– and perhaps ironically– Fielding also has an important place in the history of law-enforcement, having founded (with his half-brother John) what some have called London‘s first police force, the Bow Street Runners, using the authority he gained when he was appointed a magistrate.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

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