4. Austen practiced sartorial diplomacy as deftly as Michelle Obama
"She understands the social power of fashion, with characters who worry about how they look," FHM curator Walford adds. "They don't want to appear shabby or too eager or too fashionable." Austen not only used clothing to define character and class but as a plot device.
To contextualize Austen as a keen observer of clothing and a dedicated follower of fashion ("she often refers to stylish details like spencers and tippets", he notes), in addition to fashion artefacts like a pink cotton print dress from 1797 Halifax by way of Scotland, there are examples from the period fashion magazines that Austen would have read. Two bound volumes of Ackerman's journal, aka Ackermann's Repository of Arts, the influential early style journal published monthly in London that contained hand-painted plates of the latest fashions. Those on display still have actual fabric samples in them, Walford says, "including a faux-fur with a giraffe print, probably meant for making men's vests. "More for Mr. Wickham," he laughs, "who when he wasn't in uniform probably wore this!"
5. Austen is also very much in fashion again—literally
She's also very much in fashion as a muse. For his last Givenchy collection, Alexander McQueen referenced her literary heroines. Her empire waists fill Molly Godard dreamy fall 2017's runway, and Regency-inspired splendour in the latest Gucci show. The invitation was a vinyl record that included a recitation from Persuasion. On the runway itself, Gucci designer Alessandro Michele sent models carrying embroidered floral clutches that were trompe l'oeil of her celebrated novel.
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