Thursday 16 July / 6–8pm
Join Fashion Historian Amber Jane Butchart for a talk on her new book Nautical Chic tracing the relationship between maritime dress and the fashionable wardrobe, uncovering stories, tracking the trends, and tracing the evolution of the style back to its roots in our seafaring past.
From the modernist elegance of Coco Chanel to Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s punk-fuelled pirates, the appeal of nautical dress has cut a sartorial swathe for over two centuries. But how did garments such as the blue and white fisherman’s top and peacoat cross over from uniform and workwear into fashionable dress?
Nautical Chic charts the nautical influence on fashion over five chapters, each of which considers a particular maritime profession: The Officer, The Sailor, The Fisherman, The Sportsman and The Pirate. Butchart weaves together politics, imperialism, war, leisure, trade, sport and seafaring adventure to tell the stories of garments – the duffle coat, the yellow fisherman’s macintosh, the yacht club blazer –loaded with historical and cultural significance.
From the birth of naval uniform in the 18th century to the lavish embellishment of McQueen and Givenchy, ‘Officer’ style plays with ideas of power, wealth and spectacular adornment. ‘The Fisherman’s’ occupational clothing has given rise to chic classics via the avant-garde’s bohemian embrace of Riviera lifestyle in the 1920s and the chapter charts how blue-and-white stripes became the choice of style arbiters as diverse as Coco Chanel, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Andy Warhol. ‘The Sailor’ explores the undeniable sex appeal of the beefcake sailor on shore leave, whilst luxury, leisure and the yachting lifestyle come together in the all-American figure of ‘The Sportsman’. The final chapter examines the romance, adventure and spirit of rebellion of ‘The Pirate’, tying together Captain Hook, McLaren and Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
Price £15 / £12 students includes a drink, book signing and exhibition entry
The event starts at 6pm with a glass of wine in the Museum foyer and evening view of Riviera Style; the talk follows at 6.15pm for 6.30pm in the Fashion Studio and lasts for approximately one hour including an opportunity to ask questions at the end. The talk is followed by a book signing. Nautical Chic is available for purchase from the Fashion and Textile Museum exhibition shop or from the online shop.
Amber Butchart is a fashion historian on a quest to reveal the secrets of our sartorial past. She is regularly called on to share her expertise on the fashion industry and its history, from Woman’s Hour and BBC Breakfast to Great British Sewing Bee. She presents a regular ‘In Conversation’ series at the V&A museum, and has lectured on many aspects of fashion history at leading institutions including the British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Britain, British Library, and British Film Institute. She is an Associate Lecturer in Cultural & Historical Studies at London College of Fashion and a former visiting Research Fellow at University of the Arts London.Frequently Asked Questions