Etiquetteby Polly Leonard
My son is about to go off to secondary school – life is changing at a faster pace than I would ideally wish, while he is relishing the adventure. As I prepare him for his big day, I have dutifully stitched Cash name labels onto every item of uniform. You may be surprised given the field I’m in: but as a working mother this is almost the only time I pick up a needle and thread. At one time all women were responsible for their household linen and even the wealthiest, who employed others to weave and make up their linens, retained the task of monogramming.
The value of the linens necessitated its labelling to prevent confusions during laundry. Embroiderer Victoria Bain examines the importance of a name in her article on the survival of monograms, pg 54.I recently enjoyed the Chanel Four series AllintheBestPossibleTastein which artist Grayson Perry examined what remains of the British class structure.
While most people would not wish to go back to the rigidity of the past, great comfort and security can be gained from established rituals and codes of conduct. It is surprising how much manners still mean to most of us in a world of ever-decreasing formality. This informality takes many forms. One only has to look around the arrivals hall in an international airport to see casual dress taken to an extreme.
Just fifty years ago flying was considered something to dress up for, and Deirdre McSharry reminisces on the value of respectable dress codes, pg 48 and Beth Smith, pg 75 mourns their demise. In parts of the world traditional dress is still worn, at least on special occasions, and when it is as beautiful as the Korean Hanbok it’s no surprise. Photographer Kim Kyung Soo captures the grace of this costume in his Full moon Story, pg 23.France, often considered to be more formal in its forms of address than the rest of the world, has a rich textile heritage as described by Genevieve Woods in Southern Charm, pg 44. She also takes an indepth look at the innovations and industries that gave rise to that heritage in Lyon, pg 40.
Polly Leonard, Founder & Editor of Selvedge Magazine
Extract from issue 48 Etiquette. Get 50% off during our back issue sale when you buy 2 or more issues. To redeem offer, please use code JANUARY at checkout. Shop the Selvedge archive here.