Fashion, Then and Now


Okay, I know it’s been a week since the Golden Globes, but you knew I would just have to talk about it, right? With no Tilda Swinton this year, I was hoping someone would bring the wackiness and save us from an endless sea of styled-up good taste. And luckily there were plenty of questionable choices, with Renee Zellweger nobly leading the pack in a dress that never should have seen the light of day. With the addition of the crazy hair, she could be heading to an audition to play Bertha Rochester in the attic.

Other than that, there were a few, more minor missteps (IMO, anyway!). Maggie Gylenhaal is too young to look she’s shopping at a boutique for Florida retirees; Drew Barrymore, great dress–bad hair; and Eva Mendes and Blake Lively looked like they had no time to have their gowns properly fitted before running out the door (ditto for Cameron Diaz, but somehow she always manages to look like she mistakenly put her couture gowns in the clothes dryer!)

But it was mostly good! Black, cream, and metallics were big, as was strapless (which I keep hoping is a trend that will fade away, but it never does!). Still, of my top 4 favorites, 3 were strapless, so go figure. Those favorites:

Kate Winslet (always so elegant)

Anne Hathaway (I love the midnight-blue color! But she is getting a bit scary-skinny…)

January Jones (another color I love!)

And Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire (my favorite of the night!)
The next big fashion event will be the Inauguration on Tuesday! I can’t wait to see what Michelle Obama wears, and wish so much I could be there in person (though I will be glued to my TV!)

And just to keep this blog somewhat on-topic–on this date in 1775, Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play The Rivals had its premier! Though it’s possibly his most-performed play these days, it had a somewhat rocky beginning.

The Rivals was Sheridan’s second commercially produced play, written while he was a cash-strapped, 23-year-old newlywed living in Bath with his new wife, the famous singer Elizabeth Linley. It was first performed at Covent Garden, and was roundly booed by the public and the critics for its overly-long length, its bawdiness, and the character of the Irishman Sir Lucius O’Trigger (“a meanly written role played very badly” by the actor Mr. Lee, who was hit in the head by an apple during the performance and stopped to berate the audience. BTW, if it was too long and too bawdy in 1775, it must have been very long and very bawdy indeed!)

Sheridan apologized for any impression that O’Trigger was meant as an insult to Ireland, and set about doing extensive revisions in 11 days. On January 28, it re-opened with a new actor and a shorter length, and went on to great popularity. It became a favorite of the royal family, with 5 command performances in 10 years, and was also ironically a favorite of George Washington.

The story is set in Bath, and centers around the young lovers Lydia Languish and Captain Jack Absolute. Lydia, a very Catherine Morland sort of girl who reads lots of novels, wants a Romantic Affair. So, Jack pretends to be a poor ensign, not a wealthy officer from a good family (who, ironically, has been betrothed to Lydia by his father, all unknowing!). Lydia loves the idea of eloping with a poor soldier behind the back of her guardian, the famous Mrs. Malaprop (“He was the very pineapple of fashion!”)

Lydia also has 2 other suitors, Bob Acres (a buffoonish country squire) and the argumentative Irishman O’Trigger. The plot is full of misunderstandings, duels, acceptances, quarrels, etc, until all ends well.

I recently read a very interesting novel called Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphrys, which re-tells the story in a much more dramatic fashion. A good source for this post was Linda Kelly’s Richard Brinsley Sheridan, A Life (1997). And a good source for Golden Globes pics is the Entertainment Weekly website!

Who were your favorites at the Golden Globes? Seen any good productions of The Rivals?

And you can see an excerpt of High Seas Stowaway this week at Unusual Historicals...

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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