The Romano-Egyptian socks were excavated in the burial grounds of ancient Oxyrhynchus, a Greek colony on the Nile in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. They were given to the Museum in 1900 by Robert Taylor Esq., ‘Kytes,’ Watford. He was executor of the estate of the late Major Myers and these items were selected among others from a list of textiles as ‘a large number of very useful examples.’
Particularly intriguing about these “very useful examples” is the technique used to construct these red wool socks. Called nålbindning, or single-needle knitting, this time-consuming process required only a single thread. The technique was frequently used for close-fitting garments for the head, feet and hands because of its elastic qualities. Primarily from prehistoric times, nålbindning came before the two-needle knitting that’s standard today; each needle was crafted from wood or bone that was “flat, blunt and between 6-10 cm long, relatively large-eyed at one end or the eye is near the middle.”
We don’t know for sure whether these socks were for everyday use, worn with a pair of sandals to do the ancient Egyptian equivalent of running errands or heading to work—or if they were used as ceremonial offerings to the dead (they were found by burial grounds, after all).
For sandals? They look to me to have been made for someone (the ibis-headed god Thoth?) who had feet like a stork.
“This university believes that the way of the amateur is the only one to provide satisfactory results.”
—Master of Caius College, “Chariots of Fire” (1981).
As the Wall Street Journal reports, a Baltimore hairdresser is proving the college master right.
By day, Janet Stephens is a hairdresser at a Baltimore salon, trimming bobs and wispy bangs. By night she dwells in a different world. At home in her basement, with a mannequin head, she meticulously re-creates the hairstyles of ancient Rome and Greece.
Ms. Stephens is a hairdo archaeologist.
Her amateur scholarship is sticking a pin in the long-held assumptions among historians about the complicated, gravity-defying styles of ancient times. Basically, she has set out to prove that the ancients probably weren’t wearing wigs after all.
“This is my hairdresserly grudge match with historical representations of hairstyles,” says Ms. Stephens, who works at Studio 921 Salon & Day Spa, which offers circa 21st-century haircuts.
Her coiffure queries began, she says, when she was killing time in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore back in 2001. A bust of the Roman empress Julia Domna caught her eye. “I thought, holy cow, that is so cool,” she says, referring to the empress’s braided bun, chiseled in stone. She wondered how it had been built. “It was amazing, like a loaf of bread sitting on her head,” says Ms. Stephens.
A hairstylist by day, Janet Stephens has become a “hair archaeologist” studying the intricacies of ancient Greek and Roman hairstyles. As WSJ’s Abigail Pesta reports, she’s been published in the academic community on her research, which she says proves the intricate hairstyles were not wigs.
She tried to re-create the ‘do on a mannequin. “I couldn’t get it to hold together,” she says. Turning to the history books for clues, she learned that scholars widely believed the elaborately teased, towering and braided styles of the day were wigs.
She didn’t buy that. Through trial and error she found that she could achieve the hairstyle by sewing the braids and bits together, using a needle. She dug deeper into art and fashion history books, looking for references to stitching.
In 2005, she had a breakthrough. Studying translations of Roman literature, Ms. Stephens says, she realized the Latin term “acus” was probably being misunderstood in the context of hairdressing. Acus has several meanings including a “single-prong hairpin” or “needle and thread,” she says. Translators generally went with “hairpin.”
The single-prong pins couldn’t have held the intricate styles in place. But a needle and thread could. It backed up her hair hypothesis.
In 2007, she sent her findings to the Journal of Roman Archaeology. “It’s amazing how much chutzpah you have when you have no idea what you’re doing,” she says. “I don’t write scholarly material. I’m a hairdresser.”
John Humphrey, the journal’s editor, was intrigued. “I could tell even from the first version that it was a very serious piece of experimental archaeology which no scholar who was not a hairdresser—in other words, no scholar—would have been able to write,” he says.
He showed it to an expert, who found the needle-and-thread theory “entirely original,” says Mr. Humphrey, whose own scholarly work has examined arenas for Roman chariot racing.
Ms. Stephens’ article was edited and published in 2008, under the headline “Ancient Roman Hairdressing: On (Hair)Pins and Needles.” The only other article by a nonarchaeologist that Mr. Humphrey can recall publishing in the journal’s 25-year history was written by a soldier who had discovered an unknown Roman fort in Iraq.
Justice Antonin Scalia provoked puzzlement among libs throughout the land by wearing what Gawker described as “a really weird hat” and the New York Daily News as “a beret on steroids.”
The mystery was elucidated by Richmond University of Law Professor Kevin C. Walsh, who explained:
The hat is a custom-made replica of the hat depicted in Holbein’s famous portrait of St. Thomas More. It was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia. We presented it to him in November 2010 as a memento of his participation in our 27th annual Red Mass and dinner.
It is not unlikely that Justice Scalia was intentionally making a reference to his own support of religious liberty in connection with the Obama Administration’s attempts to force Catholic institutions to act in opposition to church teachings by mandates requiring funding of employee birth control and abortion.
Hans Holbein, Sir Thomas More, 1527, Frick Collection, New York.
————————————————— White tie with dinner jacket.
Even more bizarre was the newly-inaugurated president’s appearance at Inaugural Balls incongruously wearing a white bow tie with a dinner jacket.
There must surely be White House specialists in protocol available to advise the ill-informed on what is and what is not correct in matters of this kind.
One correspondent of a list I read suggested that President Obama may have intentionally chosen a white tie (sometimes worn to indicate status as staff with a dinner jacket at evening events) as a kind of riposte to former President Clinton’s unkind 2008 remark to the late Senator Kennedy dismissive of Senator Obama’s candidacy: “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
Of course, it also might simply have been a casual expression of modernist contempt for traditional norms and customs.
Yoko Ono launched a menswear collection on Tuesday that she says was inspired by John Lennon’s “hot bod.” Among her designs are pants with large handprints on the crotch, tank tops with nipple cutouts, a flashing LED bra (yes, for men) and that pair of pants with a sheer backside.
The collection of menswear for Opening Ceremony is available the company’s U.S. stores in New York and Los Angeles now, its London store on Nov. 30 and its Tokyo flagship on Dec. 9.
Ono’s clothing line is based on a series of drawings she sketched as a gift for Lennon for their wedding day in 1969. ...
Prices run from $25 for a poster to $200 for a jock strap or $750 for boots with an incense holder or open toes.
I’ve never worn sneakers or sweatshirts in my life. And I wore blue jeans—pretty much the same pair of blue jeans—every day, throughout college. And I decided the moment I graduated from college that I would never wear blue jeans again. And I have never worn blue jeans again.
Unlike Whit Stillman, I have worn sneakers and sweatshirts: exclusively while working out in health clubs, never on the street or at home. I think I was just very slightly older than him when I too came to the conclusion that there was no place in adult life for blue jeans and switched permanently to khaki slacks for informal wear.
Dressing like a Preppy has been a successful marketing approach in men’s clothing for several decades, but offering to allow you to smell like a Preppy? (Those of us who once frequented locker rooms in the Yale gymnasium are shaking our heads at this one.)
Perhaps, this company has finally figured out how to compound the ultimate scent effective in the seduction of the opposite sex: the pure, distilled essential aroma of old money.
Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary of York, elder daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah, Duchess of York, and fifth in succession to the throne, startled the world by wearing a hat that looked as if it had been designed by Dr. Seuss.
Princess Beatrice’s hat is, I’m told, the kind of thing called “a fascinator.”
The New York Times offered a slideshow featuring other ladies’ (more becoming) hats as well.
For the Russian billionaire, Narcosyndicate chief, or Third World dictator who has everything: a diamond-encrusted, single button suit designed by Stuart Hughes of Liverpool, purveyor of the “world’s most luxurious communications and bespoke elements.”
Hughes specializes in solid gold iPhones and similar knickknacks and tailoring is a new area for him, so the actual cutting, sewing, and fitting are being done by Richard Jewels, a 27-year-old Manchester designer of Nigerian extraction who opened his own fashion house last year.
Referred to as the “R. Jewels Diamond Edition,” the world’s most expensive suit is “made from a blend of Cashmere wool, silk & diamonds, and requires 600 man hours of assembly. 480 diamonds (0.5cts, colour G, VS2 quality, totalling 240cts) are “strategically positioned” around the suit. Clients receive all expenses paid trips to luxury destinations such as the Arc en Ciel in St Lucia, presumably for fittings, as part of the deal.
It is not actually mentioned, but the photos suggest that the lucky Mafioso will receive a diamond-trimmed pocket handkerchief accessory as well.
Three of these suits are planned at a cost each of £599,000.00 ($892,250). Buyers can soothe their consciences by reflecting that 10% of the price will be donated to Haitian relief.
George Lucki, a friend from Polish heraldic study circles, posted on Facebook a Photoshopped version of Jan Matejko’s Portrait of Artur Wladyslaw Potocki (1850-1890) with his own head replacing the original.
Actually, I think Mr. Lucki’s countenance looks even better than Mr. Potocki’s in the portrait. In fact, I did not recognize it as a Photoshopped image, until George told me.
This would be a very becoming outfit for formal evening wear, if one could only find a tailor able to do an equivalently elegant set of zupan, kontusz, and pas kontuszowy.
The Revolution has not been effectuated and the left is turning on him. Former Beatle Paul McCarthy gushing over Obama is so two years ago, writes Toby Harnden in the Telegraph.
[I]t was not just McCartney’s dyed hair and 1960s songs that seemed so retro. His adulation of Obama struck the wrong chord because few outside the White House bubble are in that place any more. It is now permissible – even fashionable – to have a go at the man once hailed as the Messiah.
I remember when it was kind of cool to be a blogger. You’d walk around with a swagger in your step, a twinkle in your eye. Now it’s just humiliating. Blogging has become like mahjong or needlepoint or clipping coupons out of Walgreens circulars: something old folks do while waiting to croak.
Did you see that new Pew study that came out yesterday? It put a big fat exclamation point on what a lot of us have come to realize recently: blogging is now the uncoolest thing you can do on the Internet. It’s even uncooler than editing Wikipedia articles or having a Second Life avatar. In 2006, 28% of teens were blogging. Now, just three years later, the percentage has tumbled to 14%. Among twentysomethings, the percentage who write blogs has fallen from 24% to 15%. Writing comments on blogs is also down sharply among the young. It’s only geezers – those over 30 – who are doing more blogging than they used to.
The Boston Globe describes this as old news, but I had not heard. Harvard University is licensing its name to a division of Wearwolf Group for use in labeling a line of men’s clothing.
The clothing line, to be labeled “Harvard Yard” will obviously be marketed to people who are unaware of the existence of J. Press, the Andover Shop, and Brooks Brothers. They will think they will be dressing like preppies attending Harvard, but they will really be dressing in accordance with the idea some gay guys who didn’t go to college at all have of how men at Harvard should dress.
Is Harvard really so badly off that they need to sell their name to get money for scholarships? Couldn’t they just get Drew Faust and some of their female faculty out there in bikinis doing car washes?
The Harvard Yard line will arrive in stores next spring with shirts selling for $160 and up, pants starting at $195, and blazers selling for $495. Eventually the company plans to add women’s wear to the mix. None of the Harvard Yard clothing actually bears a Harvard logo. The clothes have subtle touches to show their pedigree, such as crimson stitching around buttonholes. Shirts, sweaters, and jackets are also named for buildings on campus and streets in Cambridge.
I always marvel when I read a fashion article like this one in Newsweek.
Fok-Yan Leung doesn’t look out of place at the local field-and-stream emporium. His Maine Guide Jacket is nearly indistinguishable from the coats his fellow Moscow, Idaho, residents have on, and its maker, Woolrich, has been a wilderness staple since 1830. But despite the duds, Leung is actually a Harvard-trained researcher at a nearby university—not a grizzled Gem State native on the hunt for a new Winchester. And his jacket isn’t your average Woolrich. It was produced by an Italian company. It was designed by Japan’s Daiki Suzuki. And, as part of the luxe Woolrich Woolen Mills spinoff collection, it sells for $500—four times the price of a comparable Woolrich garment. “If the guys here found out, they’d be like, ‘He’s flipped his lid’,” says Leung, who also manages Styleforum.net. “I’ve never fired a gun in my life.”
Introducing haute Americana, one of the most powerful—and paradoxical—forces in men’s sportswear. Until recently, men like Leung would’ve skipped the Woolrich for a skinny Dior suit. But in recent years a number of tastemakers, many foreign, have dedicated themselves to reviving iconic American clothing for a hip new audience. Some have collaborated with classic U.S. brands on revitalized products (see: Suzuki and Woolrich). Some have stocked hunting garb in their big-city boutiques. And some have actually begun to reproduce emblematic gear—Wayfarers, Penfield vests—to exacting standards of authenticity. The result—on ample display in places like Brooklyn, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., where certain streets now resemble catwalks crowded with bookish lumberjacks—is a subset of prosperous peacocks paying a premium for garments originally meant for mining or fishing, then wearing them to tapas bars and contemporary art installations.
Affected? Absolutely. Still, how we dress says a lot about who we want to be, and that ache for authenticity—or, at least, the aura of authenticity—is revealing. For the foreigners who instigated the fad, sturdy American gear has long evoked a distant, idealized culture. ... With the recent decline in our security, industry and standing, that nostalgia for a prelapsarian America (and the durable domestic goods that defined it) seems to have settled over the stylish set here at home. “Ironically, it’s largely because of overseas interest that Americans can now wear real American stuff,” says Michael Williams, a fashion publicist who covers Americana on his blog, A Continuous Lean.
Like articles of military uniform adapted as fashion statements, outdoor and equestrian garb have become another occasion for sartorial Walter Mitty-ism on the part of an urban community willing to pay premium prices for artificially distressed blue jeans.
My parents and grandparents, who actually had a life, would be appalled at both the routine enjoyment of a budgetary surplus available for this sort of overpriced grasp at self definition and the need for purchasing an identity different from one’s own. Who knows? If we live long enough, we may come to see “Coal Miner Chic” adopted by residents of the coastal enclaves of sophistication, complete with knock-off carbide lanterns and specially imported coal dirt.