Speaker: Benjamin Wild
3 November 2020

By 2020 the global menswear industry is expected to be worth $33 billion. This illustrated lecture unpicks the social and political threads that hold the male wardrobe together by considering changing attitudes across the ages. It identifies key individuals from Beau Brummell to Edward VII and important periods of transition from the Restoration of Britain’s monarchy in 1660 to the ‘Youthquake’ that occurred after the Second World War. Following a timeline and explaining sartorial developments in conjunction with social and political changes, the lecture shows how men’s clothing, even thoughts on what it means to be male, has been in constant evolution. This remains so today.  

Benjamin is a cultural historian who writes and lectures about the history of dress. He convenes courses for the Victoria & Albert Museum and is a teacher of history at Sherborne School. He is half of the Dress:Fancy podcast (the other half being Lucy Clayton), a weekly show that discusses the prevalence, power and popularity of fancy dress costume. Previously, he was guest lecturer at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design and consultant lecturer at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. He has written for a variety of magazines and academic journals and regularly talks at the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy.

Benjamin read History at King’s College London. His doctorate, focusing on the material culture of the household of King Henry III of England, was published in 2012. His second book, A Life in Fashion: The Wardrobe of Cecil Beaton, was published in 2016. His next book is called Carnival to Catwalk: Global Reflections on Fancy Dress Costume