Heavenly Bodies of The Met

We finally ended up at The Met. It had been on my mind for some time and it being a bank holiday when the sky was swollen for the most part with clouds, Adi gave in. And will you get this, for not one, but two consecutive days. That is the power of love (or, a rainy weekend). A fine museum can be a salve to the soul that seeks more. Up the classic steps of The Metropolitan Museum and we were inside its august portals and soon the senses were buzzing with the wealth of art inside the maze of chambers. We were swept up by burial masks and the art of the Incas wrought in gold, smooth and veined busts of Greek gods and goddesses in marble, ancient Mayan figurines and the works. Time sped by. It was a lesson loaded with geography and history, which I appreciated way more than I would have as a teenager. For then the purpose of life was to guzzle Mills & Boon romances in the back benches and yak endlessly on the landline.

Back inside The Met, we were surprised by a line-up of sumptuous and austere figures. Catholicism and fashion! Oh, why yes, images from the Met Gala earlier this spring came back in a flash. How could I forget? The eyes had goggled at the pageantry, and details like Kim Kardashian being unable to paint her face as a girl (deprived child) because she attended Catholic school, Rihanna walking into the gala in her gown of pearls and crystals, with an equally low-key mitre, and then the revelation of a mini skirt, lest you started questioning her sartorial statement…

Riveted by this unusual exhibition, the likes of which we have never seen, I did pop my head and hands through a press of bodies, to steal a handful of images. So here’s how faith and fashion colluded at The Met. And I can promise you, it ain’t the mendicant’s cuppa.

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Habit of the clergy. The soutane.
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Angelica by Dolce & Gabbana, in black wool crepe and buttons of gold.
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Thom Browne ensemble in black cashmere broadcloth, black mink and white Persian lamb (put me in mind of a ram with concave horns).
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Moschino’s black and white canvas. That headgear!
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Sheaths with Byzantine mosaic design
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Silk taffeta dress by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino
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A Thierry Mugler ivory silk taffeta ensemble, accessorised with gold-painted feathers.
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Statuary vestment for the Virgin of El Rocio, ca. 1985, by Yves Saint Laurent. An affair in gold silk brocade, silk satin and metal Chantilly lace.
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Burred vision in gold and white. An evening look by John Galliano for Dior.
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Christian Lacroix wedding ensemble in silk brocade and tulle
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Sumptuous statuary vestment in blue silk jacquard and gold metal passementerie for the Madonna Della Grazie in Palagianello, Italy, by Riccardo Tisci.
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And Alexander McQueen’s evening look for the House of Givenchy.

Catalogue for the Dandy Traveller

First of all, a big cheery hello to you all. I have missed you so. This being such an addiction and all that thrown into the miss-you mixture.

It was bank holiday and our itchy feet took us north into Yorkshire, into heart of the green dales which you have been introduced to in my posts Up and Down the Yorkshire Dales and Crackpot Hall on the Dales. Three days of walking did wonders for our souls. There’s nothing like a spot of walking, meeting strangers, exchanging random notes – often about furry mates because the Englishman and his dog shall not be parted – then sitting in a pub with a pint and a hefty plate of roast meat or pie with a fire crackling  in the backdrop.

Now when Adi sits down with a plate of lamb leg and Yorkshire pud in front of him, I make him squirm. ‘Imagine the lamb you have been cooing to. You petted his tiny woolly head at Ed’s (the farmer we stayed with in Cornwall) and he looked at you with those trusting pretty eyes. And then bam, here you are, sinking your teeth into him.’

Adi has decided to give up lamb. That is, he told me, after he finished his plate of lamb. Wily creature.

I shall do a post about it all later because there were hair-raising climbs thrown in too into this holiday. I survived them and sit here clacking away on Bertie (my Macbook) and sometimes thunk heavens for normalcy.

But I thought I should share this wonderful little vintage Victorian catalogue from 1905 that appeared in our box from T.M. Lewin since my husband is a dedicated customer of the British gentleman’s dress shirt retailer. Just like he got it today, in 1905 the retailer sent its catalogues to customers all over the world.

Now cast your imagination back to a time, ladies and gentlemen, when men wore three-piece lounge suits, collars starched and in place, ties knotted perfectly and jackets narrow with small, high lapels. A bowler cap, and sometimes, a flat cap completed the picture. Young men had short hair and trimmed moustaches. Beards were not so popular with the young as is the trend with the natty young men of today. They were the realm of the older men to keep and preserve, thank you.

Do you know of the Regency dandy Beau Brummell? He used to be a fixture in my Georgette Heyer reads during the teenage years, so I was introduced to him quite young. I will not pontificate about him. The link between T.M. Lewin and Beau Brummell is that they both stand on Jermyn Street in London, home to resident shirtmakers of the likes of T.M. Lewin, Turnbull & Asser, Hawes & Curtis, Charles Tyrwhitt and a few traditional shoe- and boot-makers too. Apart from these ‘propah’ shops where you get everything a gentleman might want, from hats, shoes, shaving brushes and braces to collar stiffeners, stands dandy Beau in brass looking down his fine aquiline nose upon you. If you are not dressed well enough for him, he shall hang you by your breeches.

No breeches? Beau is gobsmacked.

Also there are a few pages from the catalogue with notes for the traveller of those days. 

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Beau Brummell, the arbiter of fashion in times gone by
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The details of how you fixed your business deals with the shirtmaker
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Matters of conversion; taking stock of the wardrobe
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The Rules to getting your shirt right
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Notes for the traveller
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Spun silk, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing less shall do.