The Final Cut


Elizabeth Hawes, 1948

This is not ‘adieu’ but merely ‘au revoir’.  I am in the final week of my Stateside adventure and it is with a heavy heart that I will wave farewell to the Bard, to West 58th Street where I have set up camp, and to Manhattan.  How to sum up the past three months?  In words, there are superlatives: ‘amazing’, ‘thrilling’, ‘invigorating’, ‘fun’, ‘fruitful’, ‘challenging’, ‘surprising’, ‘productive’, ‘profound’.  In figures: a dozen seminars, two symposiums, two book launches, at least ten exhibitions, countless hours in the archive and some six hundred or so photographs, twenty blog entries and almost twelve thousand words of a journal article (but who’s counting?)

The Style Stakes Project will take a pause for breath while I get back up to speed with life in Manchester.  But the project will continue, or, more specifically, my research interests in the 1930s, Elizabeth Hawes, spectator dress and equestrian wear will run and run.  I have several, very interesting, irons in the fire (they call that a ‘teaser’ in the marketing world).  One project that has a definite shape is a return to the USA funded by the National Sporting Library & Museum, Virginia.  I am acting as Consulting Fellow to  its forthcoming Sidesaddle exhibition and will be giving a lecture on ‘Mad Caps and Mannequins: Equestrian Fashion in the NSL&M Collection’ as part of the symposium on 15th March 2014.  Do come along if you find yourself in the neighbourhood.  Another confirmed engagement is the symposium (yes, another!) at De Montfort University, Leicester, England, which will mark the launch of a special issue on fashion of the Sport In History journal, to which I have contributed an essay.  The symposium is slated for 31st October, 2014 and will be hosted by the International Centre for Sports History and Culture.

And so, until the next time, I think it is appropriate to end with some words from Elizabeth Hawes herself.  The final paragraph from her very own, Fashion is Spinach (1938: 336-7), provides a suitably colourful, memorable, flourish:

“The American woman has been laboring under an excess of fashion for only a few decades.  By and large she has shown herself able to cope with the exigencies of life as the need has arisen.  When she felt the time had come to vote, she saw to it that she was permitted.

Eventually she will look inside Fashion’s bright cellophane wrapper before she buys the contents.  She will seriously consider the quality and the usefulness of the very newest thing, the epitome of all chic, the height of all glamour.  She will settle comfortably back in an old sweater and skirt and idly remark to ninety percent of what she sees: I SAY TO HELL WITH IT.