As All Souls Day draws nigh, it seems fitting to shed light on the Victorians’ rich tradition of remembrance. In a time when one’s grasp on life was especially tenuous, mortality was keenly felt. Husbands lost their wives to childbirth, parents lost their infants to infection, women lost their men to the dangers of the industrial workplace. In the wake of such ubiquitous loss, the Victorians clung to a number of mourning traditions, which granted solace through remembrance. Postmortem photography, hairwreaths and jewelry made from the locks of departed loved ones, and the customary donning of black were all ways in which the Victorians honored, mourned, and coped with the loss of their dead.
Perhaps a more subtle mourning custom was the wearing of buckle jewelry. By its very form, the buckled belt suggests the never-ending circle of eternity. For the Victorians, it embodied a sentiment of enduring love and loyalty that transcended the grave. It was a gesture of devotion that adorned bracelets, rings, brooches, and lockets, many of which were personalized with a concealed lock of hair or an engraving of the deceased’s initials and death date.
Victorian-style buckle jewelry is timeless in its beauty and appeal, but the powerful sentiment behind its origins makes this tradition all the worthier of preservation.
“As perfume doth remain, in the folds where it hath lain, so the thought of you, remaining deeply folded in my brain, will not leave me: all things leave me: You remain.” -Arthur Symons
I believe the olfactory sense is the most underrated. Aroma arouses subconscious moods, unearthing ancient and nearly forgotten emotions of early youth. When I was little, Woolworths would offer tiny bottles of headache-inducing “Blue Waltz” and “Midnight in Paris” for a mere dime that I invested for well-intended Mother’s Day remembrances. I have fond recollections of my sisters and me smearing honeysuckle blossoms on our skin after extracting the bead of honey on our tongues. The mustiness of geraniums and irises conjures early summer bliss. Even sunshine had a fragrance that clothesline garments absorbed. The wild mint that grew profusely along our fence would infuse our tea with a tingling burst.
Signature scents remind us of someone we know who douses the fragrance because it speaks to them. A subtle scent lingered upon our mother’s handkerchiefs while the brand of soap or shaving cream our father used could be detected when he would embrace us. Spicy musk, innocent powders, romantic florals, clean citrus…our partiality towards a perfume denotes our tendencies. Christian Dior is quoted as saying “A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” Continue reading “Summer’s Sweet Bouquet”→
The lace canopy that shields from torrents and sunbeams possesses a history that spans the centuries back to the East Indies 5000 years past. But the French popularized the hand-held accessory during the reign of King Louis XIV when couturiers would fabricate lavishly trimmed parasols to match splendid gowns. Continue reading “Shade on a Stick”→