Victoriana or Edwardiana?
In my first ever history of fashion lecture (yes, I actually had history of fashion lectures) we were asked to write a short report on a Louis Vuitton fashion show. This was back in 2001 when Marc Jacobs was the biggest name in fashion circles since the krispy kreme donut and the graffiti Vuitton handbag was new and exciting, not naff and overdone. About two thirds of the class made the terrible mistake of describing elements of the collection as being inspired by 'Victoriana' when in fact it was Edwardiana. And as trainee fashion professionals, we needed to learn the difference. Maybe I should have taken GCSE history after all?
So what's the difference? A hundred years and a monarch, basically. Victoria sat on the British throne from 1837-1901 and her son Edward followed her for a short reign between 1901 and 1910. With that in mind, describing something as Victorian is encompassing many years, while the Edwardian era is a more easily identifiable period - which is probably why we lazy fashion peeps use the word 'Edwardiana' to describe the high-necked, prim and proper look that continues to be stylish at least once a decade after first becoming prolific toward the end of Queen Victoria's reign.
The point of my little history lesson is this; Edwardiana / Victoriana is big news again. With all the lace, velvet and black that's back in the shops for Autumn and Winter, the Louis Vuitton show that began my career in fashion looks just as fresh and current now as it did five years ago. We're back in lace-up boots, lacy shirts and tulip skirts. Fashion truly does work on a tiny, historical loop. Perhaps it's postmodernism...or perhaps designers are just lacking in imagination?