March 29, 2008
Victoria's brilliant bijoux
For thousands of years, fashion has been used to display one's age, rank and wealth to the rest of the population, and jewelery in particular has been used to distinguish the nobility from the peasantry. However, in more recent times, fashion has become more of an icon, with relevant fashion accessories coming and going in the blink of an eye, and trends lasting for what seems like only minutes. Certain trends tend to cycle over time, like the skinny jean that has now resurfaced from the eighties, or the wedge heel that has had its comeback from the seventies, however, they always seem to disappear just as quickly as they've come.

There are, however, several trends that rarely go out of style and stand to inspire young designers and fashionistas. One such trend is that of the Victorian era, from it's lavish gowns and alluring hats, to its gothic grunge, this era boasts some of fashion's greatest influences. In fact, many of the previous posts on this blog recognize the influence of Victorian fashion in our modern world from the streets of London to the cover of Vogue!

One accessory from the Victorian era has made a particularly appreciable imprint on fashion; from the common population to the billion-dollar fashion industry, Victorian-influenced jewelery is apparent in every nook and cranny of our intensely modernized world. From delicate pearls to large gothic colliers, Victorian influence exists throughout the jewelery industry. Much of Victorian jewelery was known for its intricate design of the precious metals that made up the piece of jewelery, and many different shapes and types of stone were used to beautifully complete the piece. As well as lavish necklaces with matching bracelets and earrings, broaches also became extremely popular in the Victorian era, and are still sported today on the frock of many a young lady. Here are some examples of Victorian-influenced modern pieces:

So next time you find yourself out of the loop as far as fashion goes, and you can't decide which set of jewelery is relevant to wear with your cocktail gown, take comfort in the age old adage that is Victorian jewelery.

Posted by Melissa
posted at 11:02 PM - 0 comments
Salon Convention

As previous posts in this blog illustrate, those with an interest in the character of the Victorian era are hardly in the minority. The widespread popularity of "Victorian Cool" is such that there are organized meetups of enthusiasts, the largest of which being Salon Convention. Advertised as "The Victorian Era for the 21st Century," it is a gathering of self proclaimed Neo-Victorians dressed in their finest. The convention holds a strict dress code but is quick to point out that this is not a place for historical recreationists, a notable distinction to make. It's interesting that this aesthetic brand of Victorian enthusiasts differentiate themselves so strongly from traditional recreationists, when to an outside observer the two would appear to be quite similar. The difference between the two, according to the organizers of Salon Convention at least, is that Neo-Victorians "embrace the ideals of the Victorian era, but seek to bring them into a modern context."

Even within a modern context however, these modern dandies have within their society the same social and economic elitism that their late Victorian counterparts did. The convention, for all its boasts of being "a space for artists, thinkers, and dreamers to express themselves" is still an experiance reserved for those with "money and class privileges." Such constraints mean an atmosphere at the convention which is likely more accurate to the upper middle class society they seek to emulate, however distasteful that is to modern sentiments.

Posted by Alison
posted at 6:52 PM - 0 comments
Going back in time...

In the Victorian era women were considered a vision of elegance and grace dressed in spectacular “fashion” gowns. These gowns were famous for their detail, their frills, lance, braid and ribbon. They were also famous for not being the most comfortable or convenient pieces to wear. The amount of decorations often made them very heavy and they were then paired with heavy coats, not to mention the infinite layers of undergarments. The tight corsets made of uncomfortable and pointy bones dug into their skin and they brushed all of this off, always keeping a smile, and of course holding a fan or parasol. The finished look was of elegance and grace with an illusion of ease and comfort.

With all those positive points how could modern day society not want to go back to that style of dress? Well much to everyone’s shock, I’m sure , we have gone back. Many fashion students are coming up with a modern twist on a Victorian style gown. Lace, beading, cap sleeves and all, the additions of course being a one sided sleeve, and some skin showing through the lace. The showing of skin being something not appreciated by the Victorians. Interestingly enough if you take the time to look at some of the trends currently walking down the runway the familiarities are undeniable, the jackets and shows, even the hairstyles. Perhaps the Victorian era never really ended, it faded into the background for a bit only to come back with a modern twist…

Posted by Sarah
posted at 2:51 PM - 0 comments
"Show me a fop and I go quivery all over"
An article by Jane Shilling posted a few years ago in the Times Online addresses, among other things, how "fops" are viewed by the public. Her son, for instance, is horrified when Shilling covets a gaudy, decadent skirt while on a shopping trip. She continues by expressing her love for aesthetics, while at the same time criticizing "wannabe fops" for a lack of understanding of the true nature of Victorian aesthetics:

I have a theory, though, that most men with foppish tendencies are really nothing of the kind — that those fancy braces, designer shirts with cuffs amusingly embellished with naked ladies or the flash of vivid lining in a subfuse city suit have little to do with the exuberant expression of personality, but are actually what the common-or-garden faux fop has instead of a personality: a lazy man’s shorthand for “beneath this dull exterior there beats the heart of a free spirit”.

Shilling’s article rises an interesting question on the intention of those we see trying their hand at “Victorian Cool”. Her (perhaps overly cynical) claim is that the majority of modern Victorian aesthetes have chosen to do so as a simple way to identify themselves as free spirits, replacing, perhaps, other means of feeling or acting uniquely.

Is this a legitimate claim, or is it true that the manner in which we visually present ourselves to the world is initially the best way to make a statement about one’s self? Regardless of your personal reaction to Shilling's article, there is no doubt that "Show me a fop and I go quivery all over" touches on what I see as the innately human instinct to distinguish ourselves. Do you think this trait is one of the reasons why "Victorian Cool" is able to exist, or perhaps how it began?

Posted by Jill
posted at 11:30 AM - 2 comments

The Blog:

Created by five SFU students for Dr. Stephen Ogden's English 206 class, this blog is, simply put, just for show. We are interested in the idea of "Victorian Cool," or more specifically how Victorian aesthetics are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. The posts in this blog are materialism at its finest; fashion, architecture, jewelry, furniture, and whatever else catches our eye. Why has this brand of Victorianism re-entered mass culture? Read the blog and find out!

The Contributors:


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