Are you interested in what we wear and why we wear it? Are you captivated by snippets of social history? Even if your curiosity only extends to the costumes in Downton Abbey or the current 1990s fashion revival, I think you might find the work of the UK’s Costume Society rather fascinating. I’ve been a member throughout my time as a postgraduate student and have attended their last three study days – Music, Fashion and Fantasy; Fashion on Screen; and Fashion and Conflict – which offered an amazing insight into fashion history and a chance to find out more about some really diverse and interesting areas of study. From these three days I have discovered things like:
- The first well known female choreographer in 18th century France “dared” to not wear panniers, corset or petticoats. Practically naked for the time!
- Sarah Bernhardt thought that “femaleness” was decidable and fluid. Her Hamlet (see image below) broke new ground.
- The three types of drag queens are: pantomime (fun), deception (sexual) and acceptability (professional veneer). [Part of a great talk by Dr Kevin Almond.]
- Gloria Swanson‘s clothing line included extra fabric in the seams, so that women could let the garments out if they gained weight.
- The V&A couldn’t get Clint Eastwood’s poncho, from A Fistful of Dollars, for the Hollywood Style exhibition as Mrs Eastwood still wears it!
- Costume designer for The Slipper and the Rose, Julie Harris, had no idea of the sexual nature of the painting she replicated. In copying Fragonard, she was dressing her virginal Cinderella as a courtesan.
- “There were no official regulations restricting Paris couture during WWI as it employed 34% of all French workers.” [From a fascinating talk by Maude Bass-Krueger ]
- Demob suits were not offered to British women who served during WWII
Formed 50 years ago to promote the study and preservation of historic and contemporary dress, membership of the Costume Society is open to anyone with an interest in the subject. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary by, amongst other things, recruiting ten Ambassadors to help continue to build the Society’s presence online. Ambassadors are volunteers who contribute monthly blog posts and develop regular content for the Costume Society’s social media channels, including YouTube.
In exchange for your writing, filmmaking, and social media skills, you’ll get free Costume Society membership for 2014, two free Costume journals, and free entry plus subsidised travel to Costume Society events (unless numbers are restricted). This is an opportunity for you to show your writing and media production skills off to the world, to get involved with a prestigious organisation, and to expand your network of fashion experts and peers.
Two of the posts will concentrate on creating content for the Society’s new YouTube channel, so this is a great opportunity whether your speciality is the written word or video content. Even if this isn’t your kind of thing, please share the link with anyone who you think might be interested. The closing date for applications is 12th January 2015, and details on how to apply can be found on the Costume Society’s blog. Good luck!