Archive for February 28th, 2009

trenchFor the second time in recent months, I have found an online connection between Virginia Woolf and the modern day fashion world.

These connections always surprise me because of Woolf’s lack of confidence about her appearance and her sense of style. She often agonized about what to wear, then later regretted her choices.

This, even though she was advised about fashion by friends and fashion writers Dorothy Todd and Madge Garland, according to Anne Pender in her 2007 article “‘Modernist Madonnas’:  Dorothy Todd, Madge Garland and Virginia Woolf.”

Nevertheless, British designer Christopher Bailey said he wanted his new fall collection for Burberry Prorsum to be “very poetic and inspiring,” a celebration of “great British icons” such as Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Fittingly enough, the collection includes practical Burberry trench coats that one might imagine Virginia wearing on one of her long treks around London. (For more about Woolf and walking, read Anne’s post.)

Late last year, a Telegraph article about French fashion designer Nicole Farhi speculated that Woolf would wear her designs. You can be the judge by clicking here.

These are not the first times Woolf has inspired the fashion world. Back in 1994, Australian designer Richard Tyler said the Bloomsbury group, including Woolf, was the inspiration for his fall collection. Tyler explained that Woolf’s set helped to inspire his Norfolk jackets, fancy vests, hand-beaded borders and muted tweeds that year. 

Tyler was a bit ahead of the 1996 revival of 1920s fashion that Brenda Silver discusses in Virginia Woolf Icon. In that book, Silver dissects the meaning behind Woolf’s connection to the changing  world of fashion. According to Silver, when the fashion industry connects its products to Woolf, it promises more than intelligent, sophisticated designs. It promises strength, independence, and fearlessness as well.

That’s a tall order for any garment.

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