Noblesse oblige, and all that jazz
Liesl Schillinger reports on New York's mania for the 1700s
Sunday 11 January 1998
At first glance, such behaviour might seem undemocratic, but it would be premature to rip Rockingham's quill out of his hand just yet. In actuality, the Upper Crust is simply one example of a culture-wide craze for the enlightened, personal-growth-focused, brocade, silk and moleskin-crammed eighteenth century. For so long, the fashion of the year you're in has been the year you're in minus twenty. But, aided by an increasing number of lush costume dramas on film, abetted by Christian Dior and other corset, decollete, and Terreur-inspired designers, a growing number of Americans seem eager to embrace the trends of 200 years ago.
In New York apartments and bars, attempts are being made to revive salons in the Talleyrandish tradition, necessitating the hiring of cooks and other eighteenth-century feudal hangers-on, and in bookstores, guides instruct would-be hostesses on how to foster conversation and build their own salons in which to give the conversations a test-drive. On Broadway, scores of bewigged knee-breeched types bring down the house with the historical musical 1776, (about the Declaration of the Independence), while the Marivaux bonbon Triumph of Love romps through the eighteenth-century, European- style. Off-off Broadway, downtown, precious five-hour long productions of Congreve's The Way of the World are performed, and off-off-off Broadway, in Hollywood, directors have cast their prettiest leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, to play Louis XIV in Dumas's Man in the Iron Mask, to satisfy American curiosity about how we would have managed at Versailles. Lord Rockingham has his own idea about that: "Come on to Versailles/Come and get high./Come on down to the Orangerie/We'll make history." Quite so.
Life & Style blogs
This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
Tinder Plus: premium service launches, charging much more for those over 28
The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Mother's Day 2015: When is it – and how did it first come about?
Google Plus might be dead, as ‘Streams’ and ‘Photos’ take its place
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...
£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...