If you had a time machine and could go back to any historical time period and live in it for a week, when and where would you go? Why? Knowing what you now do about the time and place, how do you think you would feel, both physically and emotionally? Would this experience change your perspective on how you live now?
If I could travel in time, I would choose as my first destination the Tudor court at the times of Elizabeth I (1558-1603); a period of great political and military significance but at the same time a period of great aesthetic significance in the arts and fashion of the court. Elizabeth is credited to be the most fashionable monarch the world had seen since then, a woman who realized the importance of dressing in her role as queen, as is often revealed in the numerous portraits her artists left behind. Elizabeth is credited to have possessed as much as 2000 luxurious costumes and it is reasonable to assume that the members of her court –both women and men- would follow her example. Materials like velvet, satin and taffeta would be used, all adorned with gold jewels, pearls and diamonds. The effect that these garments would have on a visitor must have been extraordinary. Especially to a modern spectator the extravagance of Elizabethan fashion would seem theatrical, strange and in certain cases probably even kitsch. It would be nevertheless an amazing experience involving at least three of the senses: the feeling of touching the cloths, seeing them and also listening to them as the person moved in the great halls of Elizabeth’s palaces.
It is beyond doubt that this experience would certainly change the way I see the world of fashion and its history. I do believe however, that I would also learn to appreciate more the more or less minimalist (at least in Tudor terms) fashion of our times!