Split Pediment

The musings of a Brighton-based architecture dweeb and town planner in training.

Tag: trousers

The Ribbed Vault

It is with some regret that this blog post isn’t about actual ribbed vaults, those astonishing Gothic creations that spring to pointy perfection in the great cathedrals of our splendid land. I will add to my previous list of “stuff about which I intend to write” a comprehensive deconstruction (so to speak) of aforementioned architectural feature.

I also intend to write about this soon but for the time being I’ll abandon my usual decorum to say simply that the Pope really is a knob.

But no, you don’t want to read this – you want to read Ribbed. Ribbed, you say? Ribbed, I say. It is, as you now know because you’ve right-clicked on that link and selected “open in a new tab” and now up there on the top right is a tab saying something like R I B B E D | M A G A Z I N E  so you know it’s a magazine because that’s what it says, a magazine.

I’ve written a couple of pieces for them. Actually that’s not accurate. I’ve rejigged my piece on the rise and fall of men’s trousers (the original is back here somewhere… there it is); I’ve also written a brand new essay on (loosely) architectural sympathy with some top-notch drawings by the very talented Yasmine Balfour-Lynn (one of them is the wrong building but that’s probably my fault.*)

You’ll have to do some digging around on the website to find them – it’s all Flashy and stuff so I can’t link to them directly. One’s under Art and the other under Fashion >> Features. The screen might make you feel a little seasick. You should also check out the Shadow Children (or SC.) fashion editorial beautifully lensed (conjugate that, baby) by my good friend Mario Mendez. Hats off to the lovely Alex Wilson (who also took the photos of the slender betattood gentleman that accompany the trousers piece) and the delightful Matilda Finn for pulling the whole thing together.

Sorry for moonlighting on you both. I’ll be back soon with stuff and things.

*it wasn’t in any way my fault. Grrr.

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On the Rise and Fall of Men’s Trousers

The trouser, like almost the entirety of Western Civilisation as we know it, can be blamed squarely on the shoulders – or, more accurately in this case, hips – of Mr Beau Brummel. His dandyish wearing of the trouser, as opposed to the foppish breeches, was a complex challenge to the sartorial niceties of the time – a theme we shall see reappearing in this discussion. Beau (we’re on first name terms these days) was at once the best- and worst-dressed man of his age. If you were a very rich young man whose steadily increasing waistline necessitated regular visits by the tailor, whose dad was presumed to be going mad and who would one day be King, then you would have considered Beau to be the most astonishingly attired and beautiful of men. If you were that young man’s father, you would have pinned on Beau the imminent ruin of society.

Despite the connotations that the word has aquired today, the late Eighteenth Century dandy was not over-dressed or feminine. Inherent in Dandyism was a tendency toward a fine, simple, almost utilitarian way of dressing. It is true that the dandy would take great pains over his wardrobe, that hours spent dressing was a symbol of great pride for the dandy, but – compared to the wigs and powder and rouge and stockings and buckles and brockade and jewellery of the fop – the dandy was a refined and sleek gentleman. And, in challenging the Baroque opulence of his forbears, Beau was setting himself very deliberately apart from this very normal cornucopia of blazing riches whilst enjoying the hallowed attentions of the Prince of Wales and our Lord Byron. His trousers were a scandal. And an astonishing success.

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