August 3, 2017


Greetings Spy Vibers! I've just returned from the UK, where I spent a month traveling with friends to see special events, classic filming locations, and exhibits. Some highlights included chatting with Bond screenwriter Robert Wade, stuntmen Paul Weston and Ray Austin, and with pop culture scholars Andrew Pixley, Mike Richardson, and Alan Hayes.  I have much to share with you! My teaching schedule picks up in a couple of weeks, but I will make sure to start posting photographs and  observations from my mission. One image that crossed my radar today really resonated with something I've been thinking about for quite a while. I've always found it interesting to see how Victorian and Edwardian styles became a major ingredient to mid-1960s pop culture. The popularity of Art Nouveau posters, Edwardian fashions, stories based on early-century ideas like Fantomas, Judex, and London's The Assassination Bureau (starring Diana Rigg), the continued interest in Jules Verne and H.G. Welles, and the costume designs for John Steed (The Avengers), Adam Adamant (Adam Adamant Lives!), and Doctor Who are just a few examples. We also saw many adaptations of Lewis Carroll (at least 6 filmed versions of Alice during the decade) and a direct influence of his Wonderland stories on the works of John Lennon and the new surrealists. The Wind in the Willows also impacted new artists, most notably Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd). Just as society seemed fixated on the Space Race and ultra-modernism, it is interesting to note how people looked back often enough for this revival to gain traction in the culture. One event of note that captured the zeitgeist of this wave was the opening of a major exhibition of Aubrey Beardsley at the V&A museum in 1966. And through exploring that exhibit, I found this image to share with you today. Designer Paul Christodoulou created a pastiche of Beardsley imagery in this 1966 advertisement for "Alice Boots" by T. Elliot & Sons, London. According to the V&A, the piece included "elements from Beardsley's illustrations to 'The Wonderful History of Vergilius the the Sorcerer', 'Salome' including 'The Stomach Dance', 'The Woman in the Moon', 'Enter Herodias', 'The Eyes of Herod', 'The Toilette', and the title-page; 'Lysistrata haranguing the Athenian Women', 'Messalina returning from the Bath', 'Neophyte, and... the Black Art', 'The Kiss of Judas', 'Sganarelle and the Beggar'; The Pall Mall Magazine, cover designs for 'The Yellow Book', Vols I and IV and a self portrait." I love how the poster wraps up 1960s fashion and Art Nouveau-chic into one stylish time capsule. More info here. Enjoy! Related posts: Edward Gorey's 1960s, Satire/Surrealism Boom, The Prisoner Fallout & Surrealism, Peter Sellers to John Lennon

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  1. I find the Victorian/Edwardian boom of the 60s fascinating too, especially as it doesn't seem to have any real connection to the teddy boys of five to ten years earlier. There's so much of it - Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Forsyte Saga and so on...

    I do wonder how much of it has to do with Britain's changing place in the world: some people genuinely looked back to a time of empire, before two world wars tore Europe apart, when everything seemed stable and prosperous. But young people seemed aware of the absurdity of that (Oh What A Lovely War; 'Village Green Preservation Society).

    (Sorry, I seem to have brain-dumped into your comments... but I'd love to see you talk about this aspect of the 60s in depth!)

  2. Thanks! Yes, I've been making a mental list now for some time of many examples and it will be fun to cover this more in the future. I definitely plan to include the topic in my upcoming Spy Vibe book :)


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