SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2013
THE WHITE QUEEN A TRIP TO THE TOWER OF LONDON
MEET THE KCL HISTORY SOCIETY
FIND OUT WHAT THEY HAVE PLANNED FOR YOU NEXT YEAR
THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL A GUIDE TO THE MAKING OF THE BEAUTIFUL GAME
THE IDEOLOGY BEHIND THE PRUSSIAN STATESMAN
WWII ART, 1960s PHOTOGRAPHY AND 1980s FASHION
TOP TEN HISTORICAL LONDON PLACES TO SEE
MARIE ANTOINETTE DIVA OR DECEIVED?
PRESIDENT Louise Turtle 20 Third Year
Editor Lauren Clark
Welcome to KCL first years, and welcome back to KCL second and third Deputy Editor Joceline Sharman years! We are the KCL History Society’s Marketing Director Cleo Pollard official quarterly magazine, and you will Social Media Manager Juliet Smith find us available to pick up four times this year on the eighth floor of Strand campus. MUSE is for absolutely anyone who is interested in history, and any KCL student can contribute (see details Luke Boneham on page 19). A big thank you to everyone who Faye Brown took time out of their summer break Vieri Capretta to submit articles for this first issue. Elliot Gathercole From Pompeii to Marie Antoinette, and the Tower of London to David Bailey we Emilian Gega have covered a very wide range of Daniel Graham history. Joining me on the MUSE team are Oscar King the lovely Joss, Cleo and Julz. If you Henrique Laitenberger have any questions don’t hesitate to ask any one of us! Shin Ng Everyone should get involved in Holly Nielsen some way with the KCL History Society Johanna Rehn this year. They have socials, events and talks specially planned for you. Meet Juliet Smith them opposite on page 3. Alice Williams Hope to see you all around!
WHO IS WHO?
Meet the KCL HISTORY SOCIETY. They are the bridge between YOU and the department, and will be organising socials, careers events and history talks throughout the year.
ASSISTANT SOCIAL SECRETARY
Oscar King 19 Second Year London / Marlborough
VICE PRESIDENT Emilian Gega 19 Second Year Ireland/ Albania
OUTREACH OFFICER William Jellis 21 Third Year Tunbridge Wells ACADEMIC OFFICER
Emma Turnton 19 Second Year London
Rob Prince 21 Third Year London / Woking
TREASURER Milly Napier 21 Third Year Colchester
Lauren Contact the KCL History Society at email@example.com Like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HistorySociety Follow them on Twitter at @HistoryKcl 2 / MUSE
HOW TO GET INVOLVED THIS YEAR AND WHY YOU SHOULD! This year the History Society has bigger and better things planned for you. Louise says everyone should get involved at some point. Emilian encourages students to talk to the committee and give them feedback. Rob calls on everyone to check Facebook for the socials he and Oscar are organising - Freshers’ events, pub crawls, pub quizzes, club nights and end of term parties. Oscar adds that there will be lots of opportunities to get drunk with historians. Will is in charge of arranging the outreach programme (this will look amazing on your CV!), while Milly deals with money matters and Emma will be organising history talks amongst other things. Don’t miss out. 3
BLUE BLOODED TOWER LUKE BONEHAM visits the Tower of London, the violent and ghostly setting for the BBC’s fifteenthcentury royal drama, The White Queen.
tep aside Bette Davis - a new Queen Elizabeth has seduced the nation. I am, of course, talking about The White Queen, namely Elizabeth Woodville wife of Edward IV. In the wake of the unflinchingly accurate BBC series of the same name (the fifteenth century really did look like a Timotei advert), I visited the Tower of London to discover what the movers and shakers of the Wars of the Roses got up to in the capital’s perpetually haunting fortress.
As it turns out, the later Plantagenets emerge as the Tudors’ bigger, nastier brother. Whereas Henry executed ministers (and the odd wife), Richard III preferred infanticide. Or Henry VII, as the case may be. It’s almost impossible to walk up the swirling, steep steps to the Bloody Tower without a shiver being sent down your spine. Within these grey stones two boys, both born of the Yorkist King Edward IV, are alleged to have been murdered because of their inconveniently unimpeachable claim to the throne. But whodunnit? An exhibition explains how their uncle Richard disinherited them to pave the way for his own kingship. However, Henry Tudor would have equally wanted them out the way, so he could marry their sister (played in The White Queen by the hot one from Skins) and have a more secure grip on the throne. There was also a chance for everyone to feel like a historian as visitors were asked to cast a vote on the princes’ fate. The fact that Henry Tudor was actually across the channel during the boys’ disappearance counted against poor Dickie, and his 30132 votes outdid Henry’s 31. The VT of Laurence Olivier’s pantomime villain projected theatrically onto the
wall across the room didn’t help Richard’s cause either. The depression brought on by reflecting on those hapless princes’ slaughter was dissipated by their uncle’s bizarre execution just up the cobbles in the Wakefield Tower. George, Duke of Clarence, a sworn enemy of Elizabeth Woodville, famously took a fatal dip in a barrel of Malmsey wine, and there was the opportunity at the Tower to quite graphically watch a video of a man’s head being thrust into…water. It’s really realistic. The curators admit we don’t know exactly how or where Clarence died, but I’d like to think the circumstances weren’t dissimilar to those the BBC offered up. George, demonstrating a remarkably poor instinct for self-preservation, returns from a successful escape from a revolt to get himself arrested. It’s good to see the curators of the Tower have a sense of humour, too. Hopefully with a hint of irony, the information board states that ‘it is not clear if Clarence was guilty of treason, but his part in three rebellions certainly counted against him’. Brilliant. The Tudors may be Britain’s historical obsession, but it’s good to see the ripples of change have begun. For all its faults, an epic drama such as The White Queen, coupled with the discovery of a certain king in a car park- (have you paid and displayed, Your Maj?) can trigger a surge of interest in a more obscure dynasty. It is satisfying to see places of historical significance, such as the Tower of London, taking note.
Entry to the Tower of London is £16.50 for students.
TRUST US. WE ARE THE WEST
ANGUS WOOD argues that potential intervention by the West in the Syrian crisis will prove just another example of the wider trend of interference in Middle Eastern affairs that extends back over a century.
estern-Middle Eastern relations have once again been swept across the front pages of the world’s newspapers: as the Syrian crisis escalates, American intervention looks inevitable. But this is far from being a new situation: the Middle East, it seems, has a perennial bugbear for Western diplomats. From the Age of Imperialism to the Cold War and to the present day, there has scarcely been a moment when the West’s eyes were not trained upon that unstable, oil-rich area of the world. In the twenty-first century, Iraq and Afghanistan are the defining interventions: however, they are merely chapters in a saga which has played out for over a century. In the late nineteenth century, as was the case several years ago, Egypt was the epicentre of events in the Middle East. However, whilst the United States is today the driving force behind Western intervention, in 1882 it was Britain. After a devastating naval bombardment of Alexandria, a British land force defeated the army of nationalist Colonel Ahmed Orabi and reinstated rule by the Khedive. In 1908, Lord Cromer blamed the disorderliness of Egyptian politics and society on the ignorance of Egyptians. He claimed that foreign occupation was “inevitable or nearly inevitable” and that a British occupation was preferable to any other, due to the “aptitude shown by Englishmen in the government of Oriental races”. His statements clearly demonstrate the hubris of British imperialism: the idea that Western ways were superior was certainly a popular one. However, the noted imperial historians Robinson and Gallagher disagreed with Cromer’s rhetoric when they analysed the occupation in the 1960s. They emphasised the importance that the Suez Canal – one of the Empire’s most vital shipping routes – had played in the affair. Their theory that national interest was the main motive for the invasion contrasts sharply with Cromer’s assertion that Britain was essentially doing the Egyptians a favour by invading. The ideals of imperialism may have been dying out by 1953, but the West’s interests in the Middle East were not. However, gunboats and sheer military force were outdated in the Cold War era: instead, espionage, bribery and political manipulation were the weapons of the day. In Iran, popular discontent had been growing about the amount of British influence over the country’s oil supply. In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, nationalised the country’s oil industry. In response, Eisenhower and Churchill plotted to overthrow Mosaddegh’s government. Everyone from notorious street thugs to religious leaders, politicians and army officers were paid off, and proShah protesters (paid by the CIA) were bussed into major cities to stir up trouble. Consequently, after his residence had been fired upon by tanks and stormed by a pro-Shah mob, Mosaddegh surrendered. The CIA then gave $5 million to the new government to help stabilise it. Clearly, the tactic of deposing an anti-Western leader and replacing him with a more sympathetic one was still in use; it
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was merely the means of achieving it that had changed. In 1956, Egypt was the stage for another Middle Eastern drama and, unsurprisingly, the Suez Canal once again played a central role. The Canal’s importance had increased during the twentieth century, as the Persian Gulf’s oilfields became vital. But Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was determined to free Egypt from British influence, nationalised the Suez Canal Company in July 1956 with the intention of using its revenue to improve Egypt’s economy. Appeasement was unpopular in the post-war years, and so Prime Minister Anthony Eden decided that military action was necessary to overthrow Nasser and re-establish British influence. In October 1956, Eden and his French counterpart, Guy Mollet, were given a suspiciously convenient excuse to intervene when Israeli forces entered Egypt and clashed heavily with Nasser’s troops. Shortly after, Britain and France sent in troops with the apparent intention of stopping the fighting. Militarily, the intervention was a success: politically, however, it was disastrous. In an apparent reversal of recent events, Britain desired military action but the United States did not. Israel, Britain and France were forced to withdraw after widespread condemnation of their actions. Consequently, Britain’s prestige shrunk and Eden’s political credibility was damaged. Although Eden had insisted that he had no prior knowledge of the Israeli attack, it was later revealed that he had colluded in secret with the French and Israeli leaders in order to make the Anglo-French invasion possible. With his political reputation in tatters, he resigned in January 1957. Many who oppose Western intervention in Syria do so based on the consequences of Iraq. The examples discussed above may not be as relevant as they happened many years ago and every example should be examined on a case-by-case basis. However, it is nonetheless interesting to look back on the history of the often-violent interactions between these two fundamentally different cultures.
TOP TEN HISTORICAL LONDON THINGS TO DO ALICE WILLIAMS takes us on a tour of the capital for historical things to do in non-Moonies and non-Maughan hours.
TOWER OF LONDON
BEVIS MARKS SYNAGOGUE
What was once a royal residence, a prison, and an instrument of power is now perhaps the most significant historical site in London. The place at which William the Conqueror imposed his rule and Anne Boleyn lost her head represents London’s long history as a centre for administrative and ceremonial rule. Make sure to take a walk over Tower Bridge and visit the Crown Jewels during your visit.
Multiculturalism is a key theme in the history of London, so why not visit one of the oldest synagogues in London, built in 1699. Bevis Marks’ beautiful, Wren-inspired architecture and cultural and historical significance is best viewed on one of the guided tours which take place on a Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
HORNIMAN MUSEUM & GARDENS
YE OLDE CHESHIRE CHEESE PUB
If you too enjoy a pastime popular amongst Londoners past and present – drinking – then visit ‘Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’ on Fleet Street and enjoy a refreshing pint under the same roof where Charles Dickens and Dr Johnson once toasted their achievements. A pub has stood on this site since 1528, making it well worth a visit for thirsty historians.
One of the most significant events in the history of London was the Great Fire of 1666, commemorated by the Monument, erected just a few metres from where the fire started. More intrepid historians can climb the 311 steps and enjoy the view of some of London’s most famous landmarks.
In addition to the unusual Victorian architecture, the Horniman Museum boasts artefacts from all over the world, a music gallery and even an aquarium! The collection dates from 1860 and continues to grow. An interesting feature is that visitors are allowed to handle and interact with some of the objects. Best of all – it’s free!
As part of the force involved in the legendary D-Day landings, HMS Belfast is now docked in the Thames and available to view to those looking to immerse themselves in Britain’s naval history. Across the nine decks are interactive activities, such as the Operations Room, getting visitors as close to the real experience of fighting at sea as possible.
Tucked away behind Fleet Street, this 12th Century church once served as the English headquarters of the Knights Templar. Points of interest are the tombs of illustrious medieval noblemen such as William Marshall, the unusual circular architecture and the section rebuilt after the Blitz.
THE LONDON LIBRARY
Literature lovers can escape to a haven of tranquility by St James’s Square and enjoy the London Library’s vast collection as well as appreciating its past. Founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle, the Library has entertained illustrious members such as George Eliot and Charles Dickens and even had T.S. Eliot as its president from 1952 to 1965.
CABINET WAR ROOMS
For the true experience of wartime London, a visit to the Cabinet War Rooms is a must. In fortified tunnels underneath the Treasury building, Churchill and his cabinet directed the war effort whilst preparing for a potential attack. Nowadays, the rooms preserve the fraught atmosphere of a nation at war underneath the modern city.
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Spend sunny days in the capital on Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath, where Guy Fawkes allegedly planned to watch the outcome of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. The hill takes its name from when it was defended by troops loyal to Parliament in the Civil War. Today it is best enjoyed on a clear day, when several of London’s historical buildings can be seen in the distance.
LET THEM EAT CAKE
ot a bad fate, one might have thought, when the young and beautiful Marie Antoinette was being escorted across Europe in 1770 by 57 carriages, 117 footmen and 376 horses into the arms of a French Prince. The same could not be said two decades later when she was having her head sliced off by the guillotine after a lengthy endurance of public hatred for her alleged promiscuity, vanity, and profligacy. Whether the Queen deserved such an end is open to debate. ‘The whore was audacious and insolent to the very end’ wrote one newspaper after her death, whilst her own final words were ‘Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?’ These quotations perfectly emulate the two angles she is most commonly looked at - a superficial bitch or an unfortunate victim. But which one was she?
“She might have been the last Queen of France, but it sounds like she was the first Queen B” In my opinion, she was both. It is a bit extreme really, to lose your head for being a self-obsessed slag with expensive tastes. I swear that is all it takes to gain popularity these days. Perhaps she did some insensible things given the context of time. Devoted to the pursuit of pleasure she abandoned tedious court rituals to attend opera, theatre, and masked balls. She wore her hair three feet high, accessorized with feathers and eccentric fashion of the day, and gambled recklessly, leaving it to her husband to pay off the debt. Money was poured into the Petit Trianon, a place as exclusive as the Mean Girls ‘plastic’s’ lunch table. For this was a château of ease and leisure, into which only her ‘inner circle’ of friends and lovers were invited. Not hard to imagine why she made enemies really. The peasant population was only starving to death, crippled by taxes and loss of land, while she was off having a laugh with her mates, bleeding her husband dry. And let us not forget the rejected courtiers who couldn’t get into the Petit Trianon. She might have been the last Queen of France, but it sounds like she was the first ‘Queen B’. ‘On Wednesdays we wear Muslin’ said she as the ladies in silk were sent back to court to join the ‘embroidery freaks’ . However, many of her actions were in the realms of understandable, if not excusable. For one, it took seven years to ‘consummate’ her marriage with Louis XVI. Talk about an extensive dry spell. I would not blame her if
FAYE BROWN follows the life of Marie Antoinette. French Revolution diva, or misunderstood?
she was actually having all those alleged affairs, the one with Lady Sophie Farrell the English lesbian, or the handsome Swedish emissary to name a few. Weighing up the evidence, it is probably likely that she did. If my husband wouldn’t have sex with me, then bought me an expensive house for my own private enjoyment, I would think he was a) gay b) guilty c) trying to get rid of me or d) all of the above. Whichever the answer, I think I speak for most women when I say that I would certainly be driven towards e) adultery, under such circumstances.
“On Wednesdays we wear muslin” Moreover, Marie faced contempt from the start on account of her Austrian heritage, and was often subject to cruelty and rumours, including being framed by a prostitute in the Diamond Necklace scandal and sexually molesting her son. Talk about being a victim. No wonder she gambled, partied and spent excessively, the best solution to lose a sorrow is to gain a vice. Sex and style was Marie’s access to power. With a whipped husband, a bit on the side, an exciting social life and a designer wardrobe, Marie Antoinette would have made a great modern day celebrity. She spoke like a true diva when she said ‘My tastes do not accord with the King’s. He is only interested in hunting and metal working. I should not look particularly well standing behind a forge’.
“Dickens forgot to add, it was also the most misogynistic of times” Sadly, in the best of times and the worst of times, I think Charles forgot to add it was also the most misogynistic of times. Women were not popular, particularly the scandalous ones, and Marie was a perfect scapegoat for the country’s misery. Her greatest misfortune of all was being born three centuries too soon, before controversy was thrived upon for making people love you or love hating you. Miley Cyrus is a case in point. She’s been in the papers every day since she ‘twerked’ against a married man and rubbed herself with a foam finger. It is a shame because I would not mind if someone chopped her annoying head off. Had Marie sent the hungry peasants away today, she would have been followed on twitter, not to her death bed, with the world talking about that shamelessly scandalous tweet:
@MarieAntoinette: “Just turned down a bunch of poor people lol not my problem’ #letthemeatcake”
EXHIBITION: LIFE AND DEATH IN
POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: A HISTORY OF FOOTBALL
DANIEL GRAHAM visits the British Museum’s latest triumph: a tragic Roman story.
his exhibition has undoubtedly been a triumph for the British Museum. The tragic story of Vesuvius and Herculaneum’s residents has been told through some 250 artefacts kindly lent by the Soprintendente Archeologico di Napoli e Pompei to give a detailed description of ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’. Jonathan Jones, reviewing for the Guardian, described this exhibition as “the most moving by far” since Neil McGregor took over as director just over ten years ago. The secret to its success is not only the epic story and fascinating relics of a time perhaps not so dissimilar to our own, but some of the most meticulously clever curatorship the museum has ever known.
“Pass museum cabinets displaying Aulus Umbricius Scaurus’ finest jars of fish sauce ‘Garum’, and real life first century AD pub signs”
Punters hoping to quickly come across any of the 1500 famous body casts of the cities’ unfortunate inhabitants will be disappointed, as they have been saved for the penultimate room. Instead we are presented with a short introduction and video in what I imagine the show’s designers hoped to present as a classical Odeon. From there you may wander onto a Roman road. You will pass museum cabinets displaying Aulus Umbricius Scaurus’ finest jars of fish sauce ‘Garum’, and real life first Century AD pub signs. Head over to ‘The Phoenix’ (FELIX.ET.TU) and listen to the lush voice of historian Mary Beard narrate a surviving mural’s story of gamblers, drunkards and vice: “I don’t want to *****? with Murtale” croons a lover into another’s ear. From there enter a Roman home’s atrium, complete with a slightly tacky pool of projected water. It might belong to Terentius Neo and his wife, whose portrait hangs on the wall and is incidentally this exhibition’s cover image. From here we may progress to the ‘cubiculum’ or bedroom. Scenes of lovers adorn the walls as well they might have 1,900 years ago, for
they have been recovered since. Make-up vials and mirrors sit on shelves, just as they would have done having just been used so long ago. In the centre, a carbonized cradle. Sex, Death, Life; all in one room.
“Scenes of lovers adorn the walls, as they might have 1,900 years ago” The exhibition’s focus is certainly to show how Romans actually lived. For all its devastation, Vesuvius has preserved for us more than a thousand scrolls, which detail day-to-day life in the Roman Empire. Cooking utensils will look remarkably familiar, though other objects such as the jar for keeping live dormice might seem, like one particular oil lamp satyr’s phallus, faintly ridiculous. (N.B children will most likely find the carbonized dog at the beginning of the exhibition far more distressing than the satyr’s disproportional member or the happy bestial relationship depicted in the garden room - parents, you have been warned!) The candid and interesting soon becomes emotional however as we are presented with the bare facts of the eruption. A timeline glows on the wall and as we turn the corner we see the individuals themselves. A family in the ‘pugilistic pose’, where the heat of the pyroclastic flow has forced muscle and tendon contraction, they sit as they would have at 8am on that fateful day. Father, infant, with the other infant in lap of mother. Others are huddled alone, so terrible that archaeologist Amedeo Maiuri described one as: “a tragic figure from one of Dante’s circles of hell”.
“These casts are not just cavities found, but rather people, very much the same as us” The room is poignant, and the exit we see two busts. So alise that these casts are not but rather people, very much
as we turn towards lifelike that we rejust cavities found, the same as us.
Life and Death in Pomeii and Herculaneum runs at the British Museum until 29th September 2013. Tickets are £15.
VIERI CAPRETTA takes us on a journey through the lifetime of the globally revered sport, beginning with its English birth in 1857.
ootball, as we know it today, is by no means the most ancient sport in history. It is, and has been for almost a century, the most popular of recent times (and in my opinion, the best). To be honest, it has become something more than a sport; it is today, a gold-plated business operation, treated like a religion, and lavished in ceremony. The extremes of happiness and desperation it can cause have over the decades, given the sport a reputation for violence. Football has the power to unite nations and stop wars; all in the time it takes for the ball to cross the goal line.
“Football has the power to unite nations and stop wars” On the 24th October 1857 the first football club in history was born, in Sheffield. This is the moment when modern football separates itself fully from rugby, and journeys on its way to planetary success. Six years later, on the 26th October 1863, football becomes an institutionary sport with the creation of the Football Association in London. In order for standardised rules to be followed all over Britain, the International Football Association Board was created in London in 1883, and today remains the only body allowed to change the rules. For the next fifty years, football expands all over the world, until it leaves England behind by the 1950s. In 1904, France, Spain, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium (excluding England until 1905) founded the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), today the most important and powerful football institution. With the 1908 Olympic games in London, it became clear that this sport had something more than all the others. As founders of football, and arguably considering themselves superior to other countries in the sport, England decided not to participate in the 1930 (first edition), 1934 and 1938 World Cups. They eventually joined in 1950, but only to find that their self-inflicted isolation brought them decades behind all other European and South American nations. It is a gap that is yet to be filled. England has won only one World Cup (1966, in England), well behind Brazil (5), Italy (4), Germany (3), Argentina and Uruguay (2). This is a poor effort from the creators of the beautiful game.
mando Maradona (1970s-80s-90s) are now legendary. Pelè scored more than one thousand goals, won three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), and it is claimed that in the 1960s every person on the planet would have recognised him and that his influence was greater than the Pope’s. Maradona has won one World Cup (1986), on his own, and also won trophies in a difficult city like Naples, despite taking drugs throughout his entire career. It has also been claimed that he could do kick ups with a drop of water. Who has been the greatest football player in history? It is impossible to answer. What is certain is that their popularity and influence upon people goes beyond that of most politicians and religious figures. These players represent the power of football.
“It makes us think, maybe the beautiful game is headed in the wrong direction” With the spread of television and the growth of celebrity, footballers became much more than just players. What they did off the pitch was increasingly considered almost as important as on it, since now they are cited as role models to the younger, and have many children’s dream job. Footballers are now stars, celebrities of the highest kind, and are treated as deities. David Beckham, the most famous of all, is one of many players who is more than just a name. In fact he is now more a television personality than a professional footballer. Beckham hasn’t won an outstanding number of trophies, nor has he ever been a true top player. However he has used his celebrity status, together with his exceptional behaviour on and off the pitch, to become a star over a sportsman. This makes him unique, and definitely something for England to be proud of. Today, football has developed into a huge business involving ridiculously large sums of money. The transfer of Gareth Bale from Tottenham to Real Madrid last summer for £85 million is the biggest in history, and considering how that money could have been alternatively invested on earth, it makes us think that maybe the beautiful game is headed in the wrong direction.
“It was a poor effort from England, the creators of the beautiful game”
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Given its popularity, the number of people devoting their time to football is impossible to count. The competition to become a top class champion on the pitch or the bench is ruthless. Thus, those players who are considered the best in history are regarded as something mythical. The Brazilian Edson Arantes do Nascimento Pelè (1950s-60s-70s) and the Argentinian Diego Ar-
GERMANY’S COLD PRAGMATIST?
HENRIQUE LAITENBERGER delves into the mind of nineteenth-century Prussian statesman, Otto von Bismarck, and finds him a principled realpolitiker.
t was his political style more than anything else that made Otto von Bismarck the prototype of a realpolitiker. While many consider his pragmatist approach to political decision-making crucial for his success in cementing Prussia’s pre-eminence over Austria and accomplishing the unification of the German lands into a single state, it also gained the Eiserne Kanzler (Iron Chancellor) the reputation of a cynical, amoral opportunist, who subjected every political decision to mere raison d’état. Even contemporary historians such Johannes Willms continue to propound this view with great ardour and not without reason, given that Bismarck himself stated that ‘if I am to proceed through life on the basis of principles, it is as if I were to walk down a narrow path in the woods and had to hold a long pole in my mouth.’
“While many consider his pragmatist approach to political decision-making crucial for his success, he has also gained the reputation of a cynical, amoral opportunist” However, there was more to Bismarck’s realpolitik than mere calculating interest. Deriving from a very personal interpretation of Christianity, Bismarck developed a unique political philosophy of his own, which marked his understanding of politics and personal duty – indeed, strong spiritual and philosophical principles were pivotal in forging his pragmatic political style.
“While already his contemporaries revered him as the man who had done the deed of the century by unifying Germany, Bismarck only saw himself as a pawn in the great game of history” One of the first lessons an aspiring historian is taught is that of casting aside all ‘popular’ perceptions of history. Instead of seeing grand individuals or crucial events at the heart of historical change, students are encouraged to appreciate the ‘invisible hand’ that governs history in the form of long-term changes in intellectual, socioeconomic and political terms. Figures such as Bismarck, who left their obvious personal stamps on their respective epochs, regularly defy this anti-reductionist view of history. It might seem ironic enough that Bismarck’s understanding of historical progression happened to be intellectually a lot closer to that of the modern historian, whose theories he seemingly undermines. While already his contemporaries revered him as the man who had done the deed of the century by unifying Germany, Bismarck only saw himself as a pawn in the great game of history that unfolded before him. He merely attempted to be on the right side of it and ensured that it progressed in his favour: ‘One only has to be careful to spot
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God marching through world history, then hop on and ensure to cling to His cloak’s tail, so that one may be carried away with Him, as far as possible’. Bismarck’s perception of history as something beyond man’s control was, as is reflected in this aphorism, firmly rooted in his Pietistic Christian faith, which led him to doubt the capacities of the individual. It was presumptuous to assume that individuals could change the divine course of history, let alone by the means of abstract intellectual ideas. This Hegelianism in ‘Christian clothing’ (Bismarck biographer Lothar Gall) did not induce the Iron Chancellor to assume that he was implementing ‘God’s will’ however and he precisely criticised his fellow Pietists from the Prussian High Conservative movement for this very reason. He saw his task in anticipating the ‘course of history’ and reacting accordingly to the state’s interests: ‘The statesman needs to forestall approaching developments on time and adapt himself to them. If he fails to do so, all his measures will be too late.’ This belief is integral to Bismarck’s persona, as it reveals the strong intellectual grounding of his realpolitik, which was far from plain, pragmatic, unprincipled interest-based politics.
“He saw his task in anticipating the ‘course of history’ and reacting accordingly to the state’s interests” Faith provided the basis for Bismarck’s ‘Christian realism’ which shaped his political modus operandi, allowing him to successfully pull the strings of Prussian, German and even European politics for roughly 28 years. Realpolitik was more than mere pragmatism to Bismarck, it was a philosophy rooted in a deep trust in divine omnipotence. In a world governed by powers beyond the individual’s grasp, a successful statesman could do little else than adapting to changing circumstances. It hence comes as no surprise that the Iron Chancellor himself bemoaned: ‘Those who defame me as a conscienceless politician do not do me justice … If I vouch for a cause with my life, I do it in the faith, which I have strengthened in honest and humble prayer before God and which the word of man does not overrule.’
Ever wanted to be the next
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN? ANNA WINTOUR? JON SNOW? JO WHILEY? KCLSU Student Media is here to make it happen. www.kclsu.org/studentmedia 11
DO WE NEED ANOTHER KING GEORGE?
n 6th January 2013 I boarded a plane destined for the USA, excited, nervous, and about to spend a semester abroad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’d been told it would be special, that studying abroad might even change my life, but in the end not even my wildest dreams could live up to what awaited me. Before I arrived in North Carolina I worried that since I was already studying abroad in London my experience at UNC might somehow be diminished, that because I’d already moved to another country to study once, the second time around would not be as special. I quickly learned that such fears were completely unfounded; rather than being something negative, my familiarity with acclimatising to life in a foreign country meant I didn’t experience “culture shock” and I could focus on enjoying the limited amount of time I had, making new friends and experiencing new things. Moreover, I soon realised that studying in the US is quite different from studying in the UK. In fact, during my time in Chapel Hill I occasionally felt like I was in a different world. Because truly, what could be further away from the reality of student life in London than living on a campus where everything from libraries, to classrooms, to lecture halls, to sport pitches, to gyms, to clubs, is within walking distance of your bedroom? Campus layout aside, I was surprised to see just how dissimilar the UK and the US systems are in terms of academics. I might have spent more time in class during one semester at UNC than I have during a year and a half at King’s, and I certainly took more tests, with additional assignments due. Yet because they were more spread out, and – dare I say it? – easier, the readings, the tests, and the assignments still felt manageable. At UNC I had the opportunity to take a course on the Holocaust led by none other than Christopher Browning; I got to study the Italian Renaissance with Melissa Bullard; I learned to think about history in a new way by studying the historical sociology of Christianity under Jason Staples and Tim Cupery, who both performed a Christian rap song on the last day of class; and, finally, I was fortunate enough to study the aristocratic culture of the Central Middle Ages under Marcus Bull, one of the most knowledgeable and amusing teachers I have ever had. I learned so much last spring semester, and should I by some unlikely turn of events forget everything else, at least Marcus Bull’s stories about an imaginary aristocratic horse called ‘Dobbin’ will remain forever imprinted on my mind. There is, of course, much more to studying abroad than just studying. I know a lot of my study abroad friends travelled a lot, but I only went on two proper trips. Once to Washington D.C to visit a friend, and once to Panama City Beach in Florida for Spring Break. In DC I saw the usual sights, attended a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting (as a guest), and saw things, like the Congressional Prayer Room in the Capitol, that aren’t technically open to the public. It was a great trip, but spending Spring Break in Florida was even better. I took a twenty-two hour bus ride to get there, and once there, I was surrounded by incredible friends and thousands of strangers. I hitchhiked for the first time in my life and watched the beach loom up ahead from the back of a truck. I saw the largest
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JOHANNA REHN spent January to May 2013 on a semester study abroad at the University of North Carolina. She recalls, here, her experiences of college basketball, spring break in Florida and playing real life Quidditch. club in America, and I spent hours upon hours on a beach filled with partying college students. I had heap loads of fun, and basically I found out that Spring Break on a beach in Florida is, for better or worse, precisely like the movies. Aside from these trips, most of my four months in North Carolina were dedicated to experiencing “college” life the way an American might. I played football (soccer) on two intramural teams, went on a hiking trip, visited the gym, the mall, went to the movies, to Franklin Street – the main street in Chapel Hill. I also became a fan of basketball, and although I had never seen a game before, I was soon watching basketball games all of the time, taking great pride in being a Tarheel (a UNC student). I watched from the risers and the bleachers, I watched games on TV, and I was just as happy as any other UNC student when we won, and just as distraught when we lost. I met new people, made new friends, went to parties. I even went to a frat party, and well, at least I managed to establish that it is definitely not my scene! I participated in the Holi Moli festival in the centre of campus, celebrated spring and threw colour at people I knew and people I didn’t. Afterwards I was covered almost from head to toe in blues, greens, yellows, purples, and reds. I spent almost 18 hours at a Relay for Life event, walking and running to raise awareness and money for cancer, and I “defied” gravity in a trampoline arena. Finally, I spent tons of hours playing Quidditch and participating in Humans vs. Zombies. I am a massive Harry Potter nerd so when I realised UNC had a Quidditch team I jumped at the chance to join. I mean, why wouldn’t I want to run around on a broom, playing the muggle version of the amazing game J.K. Rowling created, with some of the most amazing, funloving people out there? Some of my greatest memories from UNC are tied to Quidditch: winning the Carolina Quidditch Conference championships, scoring a goal against Duke University – UNC’s archenemy – and attending the team’s illustrious Quidditch parties. Just showing up for practice was a joy. I know some people think Quidditch is a silly sport, or not a sport at all, but joining the UNC Quidditch team was without a doubt the best decision I made during my semester abroad. Well, that, and trying Humans vs. Zombies, more commonly known as HvZ, or the best game of tag known to man. I had a blast, and that is what studying abroad is all about; having fun, trying new things, learning about yourself and the world.
hould the new Prince George become king one day? I think not. Now is the time for the monarchy to be abolished because of the paradoxical historicity of its role, and how this undermines our national feeling and image. If we are to consider the cultural materialism that has bedevilled our spectacles, then such a route of analysis is fair. This matter is not one to be decided by a majority; Rome is a mob that can be fooled, and her sentiments are much wavering. It is a matter of consistency, for the institutions we have inherited- and come to hold dear-, are being eroded. Conforming to the mob, for all the good it has done, has also historically allowed for illiberal and dangerous movements to rise. Let us not talk of checks on power. The irony of despotic power-checking autocracy worked wonders for Plato. When will our philosopher King save us? It’s hard to deny our resemblance to devout worshippers of a cult: we crook the neck, we bend the spine, we bob and curtsey, and we metaphorically cross ourselves towards the altar of monarchy. And just as religious faith defies the light of reason, so we are reluctant to examine the monarchy with anything more than an irritated shrug. A superstitious charm against the decline of our territorial integrity; we won’t grow up as a democracy until we resist the consolation of the English religion. That the monarchy is politically pointless is not a truism at all. Their political power has recently proven to be very real. Is Charles really having a say in tuition fees? I knew Nick Clegg didn't have the balls himself. But that this institution still holds on to soft power should be plain to us. As Bagehot puts it, it’s not that the monarchy doesn’t shy away from their rights, but that they assert it: ‘the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn’. This is beyond any social or economic patrimony given to Westminster or Whitehall. This extends to decisions made about us as students, about family members at war, and
EMILIAN GEGA argues that with the arrival of Prince George into a modern world, the monarchy should be modernized too. about the unemployed queuing outside that job centre. All this for what: some vestiges of economic gain? The Palace of Versailles, which is the biggest tourist attraction in Europe, has more visitors than Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace combined, in part because it is fully open to the public, all year round. The British nation's royal art collections and memorabilia, currently hidden from us by the monarchy, could be housed in galleries that would be a huge boost to tourism, both from within the UK and from abroad. The markets are not fickle. What advantages we have gained from propping up the monarchy on the national stage are dubious at best. But if we play along, is it even enough? The monarchy after all, s**ts on us further by perpetuating the class system and undermining a proper recognition of merit. The only thing going for the Red Head is his surname. Without it, he is a just another trooper with a fetish for right wing novelties; a trooper unnecessarily applauded above and beyond for the common sense protection of a homosexual comrade at arms. The Royal Family buttress their position with unearned symbols of achievement. They accept posts as Chancellors of universities, debasing the currency of academic merit. They appoint themselves to top military ranks and medals that they have not earned, belittling the work of true military professionals and the memory of those who made genuine sacrifices. To quote politician Roy Hattersea, the financial reward is minimal. The real cost is that it epitomises and encourages the idea of a social hierarchy; it is based on the belief that blood and birth, rather than personal merit, are enough to justify respect or even admiration; it encourages nostalgia for the past, in which it is firmly rooted, rather than hope for the future. Modernity clearly missed something.
I experienced innumerable great things while in North Carolina and I fell head over heels in love with UNC, with the beauty and charm of the old buildings, the Bell Tower, the Old Well, the paved brick paths, and the green spaces in between. I fell in love with the opportunities available to me there, the courses on offer as well as the weird and quirky things I had never had the chance to experience elsewhere. I fell in love with the spirit of the place, the sense of school pride, the feeling of being one big family. I fell in love with the people, both those who were on exchange just like me and those who were already there. I became a Tarheel. I spent the best four months of my life in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and no matter what lies ahead, I will always cherish the memories I created there. I may not, as the school song says, be “a Tarheel born”, “a Tarheel bred”, but when I die, I will be “a Tarheel dead”.
JACK THE RIPPER... ON TWITTER?!
veryone loves a murder mystery. From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes to the recent success of the ITV drama Broadchurch, a desire to know who-dunnit ,and how, has consumed adults and children alike be this through a book, play or film. But now one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the modern era has breached a new media. He may have lived before the internet, before the computer and even before the common use of electricity, but 125 years on from his famed serial killings in London, Jack the Ripper has finally hit Twitter. Tweeting under the username @WChapelRealTime, the account offers followers the opportunity to watch the murder mystery unfold through the eyes of various characters including the Constable, a Newspaper reporter and Dockworkers. Over the course of four months, followers are given all the necessary facts in story form relating to the mysterious killer as researched by experts on the topic.
ELLIOT GATHERCOLE finds out what the infamous Whitechapel murderer is doing with hashtags.
This is not the first real time Tweeting of a historical event for the organisation behind the account, The History Press. In April around 110,000 followers watched real time tweets from the voyage of the Titanic, once more adding historical accuracy to a subject that has been popularised by a Hollywood film. The popularity of the Real Time Titanic tweeting, not to mention the 10,000 followers already following @WChapelRealTime less than a week in suggest that perhaps this could be the way to reignite a love for history amongst students, academics and casual historians alike. Social Media, Twitter being one key example, offers an unprecedented opportunity to access bite-sized information relating to popular history as well as lesser known events. Whitechapel 1888: ‘the rotten core of London: dirty, squalid and crime-ridden’. Jack the Ripper is loose on the streets. Follow the case. Follow the murders.
Jack the Ripper, famed for slitting the throat of his victims and mutilation, has never had his identity revealed and it is unlikely the account will offer any conclusive evidence as to the character and motive of the brutal murderer. However, what the account will offer is a realistic insight into the realities of Victorian life. This will not only be achieved through the characters but also images of London in 1888. By engaging in a relatively well heard tale, the account aims to ‘challenge contemporary stereotypes and provoke debate’ which will maintain a high level of interest while restoring historical accuracy both to the story and setting as much as research allows.
WHEN I WAS A FRESHER
SHIN NG recalls her first thoughts before starting university at KCL, and what the reality was.
oing to university is a pretty big deal. Especially if it means hopping on a 13-hour flight to London and being 6740 miles away from home. Sounds exciting? This was how I envisioned my first year of university to be – and how it wasn’t.
‘I will party a lot… And I mean, a lot’
Let’s all admit it and be frank – pub crawls, clubs, tons of alcohol, crazy flat parties… Living life with no inhibitions seemed to sum up hall life. That is true during Fresher’s Week, but all that craziness seemed to stop there. Maybe I was simply not part of that cool and happening clique that gets invited to all sorts of crazy parties, but getting constantly busted by hall security can be quite a bummer.
‘Yet… I will be, like 100x smarter…’ All that time spent slogging away on various subjects for my GCSEs and A levels just to do that subject that I am best at in university? I am totally gonna own this baby. But boy did I forget how everyone in my course would similarly be doing his/her supposed best and favourite subject – and get totally owned by everyone else.
‘Everyone will be interested in having intellectual conversations’ Maybe it’s the tall walkways, maybe it’s the abundance of suits, beards and the occasional tie or vest, but I always had the impression that students at university wouldn’t be talking about things related to us mere mortals. I envisioned dynamic conversations filled with Plato, Shakespeare, maybe the occasional scientific discovery that my arts brain can handle, and tons of politics – but small talk along the corridors were more like this:
“Hey, did you go for the party last night?” “Nope.” Silence descends as you both wait for your lecture or seminar to start. Or, “Hey, so, have you started on your essay?” “Oh yes, I am so confused with the Crusades.” “Oh, I meant the early modern one.” And then you go into a panic mode because that essay is due two weeks later, while yours is probably due in less than 24 hours’ time. Or, like me, you may roll your eyes and get yourself a cup of coffee.
‘I will be totally glamorous living in London, with a sharp sense of fashion, and a cuppa coffee that warms up my hands’ Freshers’ Week is also the time of year when almost every student is in his or her best threads as London Fashion Week takes place right next door at Somerset House. And come on, London is one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world… Boy was my bubble busted. As the harshest of winter comes, you’d stop wondering if he/she has worn that particular outfit to class before, but rather, how many times has he/she worn it that week… And that warm cup of coffee will not warm up your hand if you are stuck in Maughan Library.
‘I will hate UCL’ Not. You will simply be too cool to care – but snigger when a particularly funny professor makes fun of them.
Join KCL History Society and KCL DJ Soc and advertise in MUSE Magazine this year. Contact Cleo Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“I’M A WHORE, I FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM”
LAURA KNIGHT PORTRAITS
HOLLY NIELSEN previews a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery showcasing the works of legendary 1960’s fashion photographer, David Bailey.
JULIET SMITH visits the National Portrait Gallery to see the Second World War artist’s female-centred masterpieces.
his small selection of Dame Laura Knight’s (1877-1990) paintings is diverse in its subjects, aims and success but presents a solid overview of her life as an artist. The exhibition is most successful in conveying her sexualpolitical force and the sense that she needed to prove herself in the hugely male-dominated world of art. Knight achieved this by becoming the first female artist to be elected into the Royal Academy for 168 years in 1936, and she was known to fight for the rights of female painters in different organisations. The first painting is her striking Self-Portrait which is described by the curator as a ‘statement of ambition to be a figurative painter’ and suggests she was on a quest for personal emancipation. The composition is highly unusual; it takes a moment to realise that the woman in red is the artist herself and that the nude appears twice. Waldemar Januszczak has criticised the Gallery for putting what he believes to be her best work first and that the exhibition therefore tails off from there, however, the drama and emotion of her war paintings cannot be ignored. The Dock at Nuremburg successfully conveys the shocking destruction of the bomb attacks in Nuremburg and exemplifies her ability to move away from her realist style for which many have criticised her. The courtroom walls appear to disintegrate away to reveal a ‘mirage of a ruined city’ which is incredibly striking and
unusual. The war painting series are also representative of her popularity of that time since the War Artist’s Advisory Committee thought it essential to secure her services. Moreover, she continued to be a strong political force who challenged the constraints of her gender by proposing that she be flown to Germany as a war correspondent and also debating with the committee over subject matter and remuneration of the paintings. These paintings are dynamic, emotional and worth seeing. Despite these great successes of the exhibition, some elements are somewhat underwhelming. Her paintings of gypsies, the circus and the portraits in the final gallery are pleasant but not exciting, especially when compared to her delicate ballet series and vibrant war paintings. Some have considered her works backward or stagnant when considered alongside other artistic movements of the 1920s and 1930s such as surrealism and abstract expressionism where artistic boundaries were being stretched enormously. However, regardless of her rejection of modernist approaches, Knight’s career was filled with many incredible achievements. This exhibition is certainly interesting and gives useful representations of society, culture and war in the 1930s.
Laura Knight potraits is showing at the National Portrait Gallery until 13th October 2013.
eing immortalised in a David Bailey portrait is the true measure of a celebrity’s ascendancy to pop culture icon. Everyone from Mick Jagger to the Kray Twins, Andy Warhol to Kate Moss has been captured by the sometimes controversial but always captivating photographer.
Born in 1930’s Leytonstone, Bailey cites two of his main influences as deriving from his childhood; one being Disney films, and the other Picasso who was introduced to him by a childhood friend. He developed an interest in photography whilst enrolled for national service in the RAF from 1956; after leaving the service he worked as a “sweeper up” for the photographer John French. By 1959 he was working for Vogue Magazine and at the height of his productivity was shooting 800 pages of Vogue editorial in a year. In 1962 he photographed the then unknown Jean Shrimpton in their era-defining shoot in Manhattan, merging street style and art which had a revolutionary effect on the previously pearl clad and dainty world of fashion.
“He photographed the then unknown Jean Shrimpton in an era-defining shoot in Manhattan, merging street style and art with revolutionary effect” Along with fellow photographers Terrence Donovan and Brian Duffy, Bailey captured and influenced the “swinging London” of the 1960’s. These three working class photographers brought fashion photography out of the preserve of the rich elite, at a time when the Vogue fashion editor was Lady Rendlesham. They not only heightened the culture of celebrity but had become the focus themselves, making them the first real celebrity photographers. Grace Coddington, American Vogue’s creative director and then a model herself said, “It was the sixties, it was a raving time, and Bailey was unbelievably good-looking. He was everything you wanted him to be- like the Beatles but accessibleand when he went on the market everyone went in.” Bailey is now 75 years old, but despite the grey hair
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and ageing features, there is still an undeniable youth to the man. The breath of fresh air which he brought to fashion in the 1960’s has yet to go stale. Wearing baggy khaki trousers, plaid shirt and ruffled hair Bailey cut an unassuming figure at the press release for his upcoming exhibition Bailey’s Stardust. He fidgeted and bit his nails throughout and had an air about him of a sixth form boy being interviewed by the head master. However the un-PC language and humour he is known for shone through. He called a journalist “baldy”, referred to Vogue as “w*nkers” and answered the question of what was next for him with “sex.”
“The breath of fresh air which he brought to fashion in the 1960s has yet to go stale” Simplicity is his calling card; he states that he’s doing exactly the same thing he did when he was 16, removing room sets and isolating the model. When asked about the huge increase in amateur photography due to camera phones and social media sites Bailey responded, “Anyone can take a picture. Difference is making pictures- it’s a secret, 10 of us belonged to the club and they’re all dead, thank God.” Bailey also expressed the necessity of finding the story of the person in front of the camera. When asked what enables such a relationship between Bailey and the subject to occur so quickly he stated that "I'm a whore, I fall in love with them, they are the centre of your universe for two hours." ‘Bailey’s Stardust’ will be one of the largest ever photography exhibitions ever held at the Gallery with over 250 portraits occupying most of its ground floor. The portraits were chosen by the artist himself and will feature new works as well as selections from his huge portrait archive from a career spanning over half a century. These include actors, writers, politicians, musicians, models and people he encountered on his travels through Papua New Guinea and Nagaland. Many of them are famous, some are unknown, but they are all striking.
‘Bailey’s Stardust’ will be shown at the National Portrait Gallery from 6th February to 1st June 2014.
he 1980s changed fashion for good. The style circus of London Fashion Week was conceived in 1984, with the decade’s designers drawing inspiration from the street predominantly for the first time. The symbiotic relationship between the era’s adventurous club wear and innovative catwalk shows has been documented in a V&A exhibition, Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s. The V&A say the show ‘traces the emerging theatricality in British fashion as the capital’s vibrant and eclectic club scene influenced a new generation of designers’. The fusion between nightlife and fashion in the eighties is depicted through cherry-picked items by the ground-breaking designers of the day, and via the popular culture publications which gave them a platform. It was during the 1980s that fashion flourished into one of the UK’s most bankable industries. An unlikely supporter of the sector’s efforts was Margaret Thatcher: “Fashion is important because it raises the quality of life for people who take the trouble to dress well”. Far-removed from staid Number 10, however, Club to Catwalk conveys to us the fashion renaissance fuelled by an explosion in sartorial creativity from Britain’s teens and twentysomethings. Designer Georgina Godley reminisced that “young London was all about taking risks”, and many of her contemporaries deliberately appealed to this youthful, daring clientele. Aside from the invasion of youth into the British fashion scene, what Club to Catwalk focuses on is the fusion of nightlife and high design. John Galliano, former head designer at Givenchy and Christian Dior, relished being a London fashion student in the 1980s: “The club scene fed me”. He recalled that no students came into Central St. Martins on Thursdays and Fridays because they were making their weekend party outfits. Indeed, the truly stylish in the eighties went to great pains to dress uniquely and exclusively. Designs by Willy Brown, for instance, were solely for people who knew of it. I-d magazine claims that such individual spirit triggered a rise in cus-
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LAUREN CLARK visits the Victoria & Albert museum to find out how the eighties London club scene influenced the fashion of the era.
tomization which allowed popular items to become different again. This territorial attitude to evening wear was reflected in the club scene itself. Special “nights” held at Billy’s, Blitz, Club for Heroes, Camden Palace and various warehouse parties, offered opportunities for dressing up and going out in the company of a like-minded crowd. These nights in turn directly inspired London’s designers. Eighties fashion was all about the club and the music. Such a grassroots movement naturally turned commercial. Katherine Hamnett’s famous slogan t-shirts spawned a thousand imitations. Her use of fashion as a political platform (notably wearing a ’58% DON’T WANT PERSHING’ dress to a reception at Number 10), however, was part of a wider ideology that fashion was no longer just a piece of clothing. It became a controversial statement. Designer Betty Jackson recollects of herself and her contemporaries: “We were the brave new face of fashion”. The 1980s therefore made it clear that your outfit was of no use if it did not make you stand out, nor broadcast a political statement. Vivienne Westwood, today standing at the helm of a million pound clothing empire, used fabric throughout the decade to shout about her green and ethical credentials. In the 1980s, her SEX boutique with Malcolm McClaren was all about being vocal and provocative, pioneering the glam fetish trend. Other notable trends of the era were new romantic, goth, punk, rave and body-conscious. The latter caused a storm, with Vogue in 1987 declaring, “It’s the sexiest dressing yet, hiding the body and at the same time, showing its every movement”. Freedom and creativity developing out of the London club scene was at the heart of 1980s British fashion, and was influential beyond our shores. Of trips to the United States to promote home-grown labels, Wendy Dagworthy muses that it was a, “huge party all the time”.
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‘Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s’ is showing at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 16th February 2014. Tickets are from £5.70.