My profession (no sniggering at the back!) provides me with a legitimate reason – or so I am telling myself – for gazing at others and for dissecting their appearance. I’m not too bothered whether someone is fashionably dressed or looks – or pretends to look – as if they don’t particularly care about their clothes. And when I say dissect I don’t mean judge. Whether the clothes are beautiful, ugly, boring or unremarkable (in my eyes or by general consent) is neither here nor there. I want to know why that particular person chose to wear that particular thing in combination with the other things they’ve put on. (Naturally my curiosity extends to accessories, jewellery, hair and make-up as well.)
When I see a photo or painting showing people, I cannot help but look at their clothes even if that might be far from what the producer intended. Primarily focussing on garments often seems wrong – the equivalent of scouring Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi for references to dress terms. Yes, I’ve been there, but at least it meant that I actually read the Duchess of Malfi, which is awesome (the play, not that fact that I’ve read it). Most of the time, though, I don’t worry about my obsessive behaviour and just get on with it.
Why this long intro about moi? Because I am about to do something – I have already started – that again doesn’t quite feel right. I want to go through some (by far not all) of my favourite Christina Broom photos and regale you with observations about the clothes worn by the people depicted.
(If you want to know more about Broom, listen to my colleague Anna Sparham, who explains so much better than I ever could the appeal of Broom’s photos - watch the video).