Style through the Ages

Yesterday, I was able to visit the British Library to see an exhibit called “Shakespeare in Ten Acts”. It was interesting to see Shakespeare’s first folio, and some of his other works presented in a style that coincides with Shakespeare’s time. I was able to see props from performances, like a cannonball, which were used to imitate lightning when scenes called for inclement weather. Although seeing the props and original texts were interesting a component of the exhibit that caught my eye were the costumes, specifically for a 1970’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’a Dream.
In one of the last exhibits, I came across 4 photographs of the costumes used during this particular production. As I read the description for Desdemona’s spotted dress I noticed an immediate connection to the tie dye style, which in recent years has once again become popular (does tie dye ever really go out of style?). As I continued reading, I noticed that in one of the descriptions that the entire costume choices for that particular interpretation of the play was the style of the 1960’s. It was really amazing to see the choices the costume designer made for this particular production. Generally, when I think of Shakespeare the fashion that comes to mind are frilly collars, dark colors, and modest gowns. So basically a much for rigid and formal sense of style. That’s why when I saw another sketch that included multiple red feathers surrounding the actress (I forget exactly which character) I was completely shocked. Now I must admit, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is totally different then say Macbeth or King Lear, but I generally associate Shakespeare with formality. When you google A Midsummer Night’s Dream, many different styles emerge when you take a look at various costume choices. It’s amazing to think that Shakespeare, a man who has been deceased for 400 years, could have connections to the fashion of 1960’s. With Shakespeare it seems that you never know what you’re going to get.