If you live out in my neighborhood of East London, or frequent the shops and bars along Commercial Street, perhaps you’ve seen me.
I’m the one with a £30 spray tan (okay, shake your heads; try living in London with no sun) who looks like a cross between downtown New York and European wanderlust, in a scarf bought at an Italian outdoor market, Yves Saint Laurent ring, a stack of cheap bracelets, orange nail polish, Chloe bag, and flatforms that are now chipped on the side from all the city walking.
Chances are that I’m fiddling with my crappy Orange mobile and carrying a Costa coffee in hand, my much-needed dose of caffeine ever since my espresso maker broke. I’m all long brown hair and bangs, which given my 155-centimetre height, probably helps in my being mistaken for a teenager.
But this is my look. It’s taken 27 years of life as an American, childhood summers in Latin America, 1.5 years of living in France, frequent business trips to Italy and now a postgraduate life in the UK to perfect. It’s not going to change – dramatically, anyhow, anytime soon.
If you start to think about what it is that makes you dress the way you do, what do you come up with? Are you a product of the sum of your environments, like me? Does the way you dress have other significance, as in religious or cultural? Were you a child of the eighties, or did you grow up in some other decade?
The Body Adorned: Dressing London at the Horniman Museum looks to answer how body adornment and dress differs across the world. The exhibition, which features 300 objects from the museum’s anthropological collections, range from Native American headdresses and European folk costumes, to jewelry and tattooing instruments. There’s also a documentary series from the Light Surgeons that explores the influence of other cultures on London dress. A series of urban portraits by students of Goldsmith College reflect on the various ways in which Londoners use various forms of dress and body art.
It’ll have you taking stock of your own clothes and tattoos. And you might even wonder what it all says about you.
For examples of what’s in the exhibition, scroll down below:
The Body Adorned: Dressing London is at Horniman Museum Temporary Exhibition Gallery until 6 January 2013. Admission is free.