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Lots of Woolf on the Web these days. Here are a few important sightings gleaned via Twitter links shared by Jane deGay and Maggie Humm.

  • Sentencing Orlando: Virginia Woolf and the Morphology of the Modernist Sentence, edited by Elsa Högberg and Amy Bromley, is a collection of 16 original essays offers fresh perspectives on Orlando through a unique attention to Woolf’s sentences.
  • Six Ways Virginia Woolf Pre-Empted Spring’s Key Looks,” by Kaye Fearon in British Vogue, Feb. 21, 2018.
  • Bonnie Greer on Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, a podcast discussing the friendships, work and designs behind the artists, coordinated with the Virginia Woolf exhibition at Tate St Ives, 10 February – 29 April 2018. Then view her art walk below.
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Due to the high level of interest in the inaugural issue of Feminist Modernist Studies (1:1-2), Routledge has provided free access to the entire first issue for the month of January, according to Editor Cassandra Laity of the University of Tennessee.

Short essays in the volume examine the state of and future of feminist modernist studies in global women writers, “intermodernism,” African-American and queer studies.

Longer essays explore transgender and Vita Sackville West; refugees in Olive Moore; feminist modernism in the worlds of fashion, WWII union organizing, psychoanalysis, sculpture, dance, Afro-Caribbean crossings, and much more.

Get full free access.

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Virginia Woolf had a complicated relationship with clothing and fashion, one that has been much discussed in academic settings and online.Bloomsbury Heritage monographs

Monographs on Woolf and fashion

Catherine Gregg explores this theme in her Bloomsbury Heritage monograph Virginia Woolf and ‘Dress Mania’: ‘the eternal & insoluble question of clothes’ (2010). She discusses Woolf’s “delight in clothes and interest in conceptions of fashion and femininity” as well as her sense of being an outsider when it came to fashion, as well as her loathing for its artifice (7).

I edited a monograph for Cecil Woolf Publishers, Virginia Woolf’s Likes & Dislikes (2012), that collects conflicting quotes from Woolf’s diaries and letters and categorizes them, including those that relate to clothing. In them she mentions her dislike of buying hats, her love for her fur slippers and her desire for a pair of rubber soled boots to wear on country walks (43).

Magazine offers shopping advice from Woolf

Today’s post on the AnOther magazine website takes Woolf’s “clothes complex” or “dress mania,” as she called it and as Gregg notes, and transforms it into shopping advice. Titled “Virginia Woolf’s Shopping Tips,” the article aims to “take advice from the modernist author on personal style, battling the sales, and the key to surviving the chaos of Oxford Street.” The magazine shared the post via a tweet.

In a nutshell, they are:

  1. Be brave
  2. Enjoy the process
  3. Ponder before you purchase
  4. Quality not quantity
  5. Be open to all possibilities

I think Woolf applied that same advice to her writing.

How to order monographs from Cecil Woolf Publishers

All of the books published by Cecil Woolf Publishers are available directly from:

Cecil Woolf Publishing, 1 Mornington Place, London NW1 7RP, England, Tel: 020 7387 2394 (or +44 (0)20 7387 2394 from outside the UK). Prices range from £4.50 to £10. For more information, contact cecilwoolf@gmail.com.

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Two attendees, including model Cara Delevigne, pose with copies of Orlando (image via Elle.com).

Burberry’s newest fall collection was inspired by Woolf’s novel Orlando, and the author’s presence was undeniable at the launch of the collection at London Fashion Week.

The luxury British fashion brand held a runway show last week which channeled the historical, fantastic, and androgynous aspects of Orlando, and, as Elle.com states, “pushed further into the future by showing a collection that was almost entirely unisex—and giving the entire cast the same makeup look, regardless of gender.”

Many famous fashion editors, models, and celebrities attended the launch of the collection at “Makers House,” which Fiona Sinclair Scott at CNN Style describes as, “an old bookshop in London’s Soho area” which was transformed into a space where people could “watch the show and explore an exhibition of artisans and craftspeople — including saddlers, embroiderers, scentmakers and bookbinders.”

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A few looks from Burberry’s Orlando inspired collection (image from the Los Angeles Times).

Writer Fiona Sinclair Scott, who attended the event and documented it on Instagram, wrote this about the show and about Christopher Bailey, the Chief Creative Officer and CEO of Burberry:

A copy of ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf was left for each guest on the pale pink fabric-covered benches. Widely regarded as one of Woolf’s more popular and accessible reads, the novel’s protagonist is born into the body of a man but later transforms into a woman, living some 300 years into modern times. Neither time nor gender could stop Woolf’s story and it seems the same now applies to Bailey.

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A copy of Orlando was given to each guest (information and photo from Fiona Sinclair Scott at Instagram).

On Wednesday, September 21st, Burberry  hosted a live reading of Woolf’s Orlando which included such celebrities as British actor Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Dame Eileen Atkins, and Dame Sian Phillips:

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Dame Sian Phillips reading from chapter one of Woolf’s Orlando at Burberry’s “Maker’s House” (image from Pin Drop at Twitter).

You can watch the entire 2016 Burberry show on YouTube (see below), or you can view the collection at uk.burberry.com.

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The luxury British fashion brand Burberry will soon launch a new collection inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando: A Biography. The ad campaign for the collection was shot by famed fashion photographer, Mario Testino, at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

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A photo from Burberry’s newest collection (photo by Mario Testino for Burberry from Burberryplc.com).

According to a press release at Burberryplc.com, the collection will launch on Sept. 19 during London Fashion Week 2016. The collection and the ad campaign will feature pieces and styles which give a nod to Woolf’s novel by “contrasting masculine and feminine styles across different periods in history.”

The campaign will celebrate the new collection as well as highlight the craftsmen who create Burberry products.

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An preview of the upcoming Burberry campaign (photo by Mario Testino for Burberry from Vogue.co.uk).

In the a press release at Burberryplc.com, the Chief Creative and Chief Executive Office of Burberry, Christopher Bailey, said this about the exhibition at London Fashion Week and about Woolf:

Just as Virginia Woolf’s Orlando is both a love-letter to the past and a work of profound modernity, this week-long exhibition aims to nod both to the design heritage that is so integral to Burberry’s identity, and to some of Britain’s most exciting creators, and the innovation and inspiration behind their work.

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The Burberry Woolf tote (from 2009).

This is not the first time Burberry has been inspired by Woolf. In 2009 Paula Maggio wrote about a Burberry collection and ad campaign which was influenced by Woolf. At the time, Burberry even offered a tote bag named after the author, which was available in several prints and styles.

Check out Vogue News for more information on Burberry’s Woolf inspired collection and about the upcoming London Fashion Week event.

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Virginia Woolf wrote in her 1928 novel Orlando “clothes have more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us”. Her intimate circle of friends and members of the Bloomsbury group were part of the radical Modernist rethinking of dress at the Omega Workshops and Woolf herself wrote for British Vogue under Editor Dorothy Todd in the 1920s. Today the styles of Bloomsbury are inspiring more and more contemporary designers suggesting their aesthetic is as modern as it was 100 years ago.

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Nina Hamnett and Winifred Gill wearing Omega designs photographed in The Illustrated London Herald 24 October 1915. Copyright British Library.

In 1915 Woolf’s sister and co-founder of the Omega Workshops Vanessa Bell suggested that the Omega take up dress design using the fabrics they were already creating. Bell went on to design and wear many Omega dresses inspired by the new un-corseted “Directoire” style made popular by Parisian designer and marketing-extraordinaire Paul Poiret. Many of the garments were painted in bold colours in the Post-Impressionist style that had offended vast swathes of the British public at Roger Fry’s first Post-Impressionist art exhibition in 1910. The Omega artists took the style of these bold canvases and transferred it onto clothing, revealing a daring defiance in opposition to accepted ideas of “good taste”. Indeed, in Omega dress we glimpse attitudes that would define youth fashion in the second half of the twentieth century, dressing to express alternative aesthetic and ideological allegiance.

Virginia Woolf responded to these Omega styles, writing to Vanessa Bell:

 “My god! What clothes you are responsible for! Karin’s clothes wrenched my eyes from the sockets – a skirt barred with reds and yellows of the violent kind, a pea-green blouse on top, with a gaudy handkerchief on her head, supposed to be the very boldest taste. I shall retire into dove colour and old lavender, with a lace collar and lawn wristlets”.

In this note to her sister, Woolf craves subtler shades for her own wardrobe. She was remembered for these neutral shades, for wearing “simple” or “martial-looking” clothes, but also in elegant stand out dresses and by Madge Garland, fashion editor of British Vogue, as a “beautiful and distinguished woman wearing what could only be described as … an upturned wastepaper basket on her head”. Her own relationship with clothing was complicated and her writing reveals a strong awareness of how clothes represent the self and hints at the perils of misrepresentation.

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Virginia Woolf wearing her mother’s dress photographed for British Vogue. Copyright British Vogue.

The many moods of Bloomsbury dress are increasingly being adopted by contemporary designers. Painterly Post-Impressionist styles, updated Victorian details, and slouchy yet elegant shapes capture the freedom of expression and reclamation of the past so typical of the works of the Bloomsbury group.

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Burberry AW14/15 ready to wear. Copyright British Vogue

Burberry’s Bloomsbury Girls (AW14/15) modelled long floating hand-painted button-up dresses, patterned as if they had stepped out of the paintwork of an Omega interior. Tim Walker more recently used Charleston House in Sussex – home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant – as the dramatic backdrop for his editorial Rebel Riders for Italian Vogue (December 2015): Four models posed in front of Vanessa Bell’s iconic black painted wall in the library and waded through the depths of the pond that initially drew Bell’s affection for the house 100 years ago. See-by-Chloe’s upcoming AW16/17 collection is also inspired by the Bloomsbury aesthetic, layering floating skirts in chintz prints with long shirts and polo-neck sweaters. Here the subtler Victorian styles – the bow tied collars, lace up boots, and long frilled skirts – are coupled with thick knits and urban details.

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Tim Walker’s Rebel Riders December 2015. Copyright Italian Vogue.

The personal styles of many members of the Bloomsbury group were as radical as their works. They rejected expected conventions whether that was with word, image, or by wearing a painted hat or a “wastepaper basket” style on one’s head. Perhaps this reveals the root of their continued relevance, both of their intellectual and sartorial lives, today.

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Looks from See by Chloe’s AW16/17 campaign. Copyright Vogue.

This post is inspired by my research paper Dressing Modern Identity that I wrote and delivered earlier this year as part of my curatorial traineeship at Charleston. Read the current interns’ research at thecharlestonattic.wordpress.com.

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Zoe Wolstenholme

Zoe Wolstenholme

Blogging Woolf’s first regular blogger from the other side of the pond is now on board. Just out of her Charleston internship, Zoe Wolstenholme will contribute posts that add an emphasis on the visual arts of the Bloomsbury group — and will link them to the natural world, with an emphasis on gardens.

From North Yorkshire in England, Zoe studied English Literature at the University of Exeter, writing her dissertation on The Room of One’s Own: Interiority in Virginia Woolf’s short fiction and Post-Impressionist Art. Here she examined the relationship between Woolf’s writing and the painting styles of French and British Post-Impressionist artists exploring the room as a metaphor for the mind. Zoe went on to study for an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies before being awarded a curatorial traineeship with The Charleston Trust in 2015.

Charleston House, dubbed “Bloomsbury in Sussex,” was the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, found for them by Bell’s sister Virginia Woolf while she was walking across the South Downs from her own country house at the time, Asheham. Today The Charleston Trust cares for and preserves Charleston House and its collection of art works both collected and executed by Bell and Grant.

Charleston House

Charleston House

At Charleston, Zoe worked on The Angelica Garnett Gift, a donation of 8,000 works of art by Bell, Grant and other members of the Bloomsbury group. Here she photographed, catalogued and researched these unseen works publishing these findings on The Charleston Attic. As part of this traineeship Zoe also wrote an extended research paper on the Angelica Garnet Gift titled Dressing Modern Identity, which examined the overlooked importance of dress to Bell and Grant’s personal and artistic lives. This article will be published in the next edition of Clothing Cultureswhich is available to read online.

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“The Process of Abstraction” by Zoe Wolstenholme on The Charleston Attic

Zoe is now working at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. Here she hopes to pursue her interest in art and the environment, which was the topic of her MA dissertation Art Spaces for Ecological Well-being. This piece examined how art has the potential to influence our relationship with the natural world. By working with the botanical art and other collections at Kew, Zoe hopes to be a part of inspiring people to care for the natural world.

Through writing for Blogging Woolf Zoe also hopes to continue her research into Woolf’s work and her circle, the Bloomsbury group.

Look for Zoe’s first post — “What Woolf wore”–  tomorrow.

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art © Walters & Cohen

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art © Walters & Cohen

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