Although clothing provides a basic protection for the body, it did not take long for societies to expand its use to express the dynamics of social organization and political power. Power & Style: A World History Of Politics And Dress by authors Dominique Gaulme and François Gaume takes us on a journey starting with the earliest type of naked societies where a thin string of shell beads may pass for clothing right up to the political elite of the present who who according to Serge Girardi are “all poorly dressed in the same way”.
In between we find a facinating array of information not only about notable indivduals like Napoleon, John F. Kennedy and Mao but also an examination of specific clothing and accessories that have defined certain periods of history. Can we envision ancient Rome without the toga or Imperial China without dragon robes?
Sometimes one individual can even leave behind such a legacy that we can hardly think of clothing in the same way without their sartorial flair. This is certainly the case with Edward VII who although not the most striking of men, gave us the tuxedo, the traditional combination of beige trousers with a navy blazer not to mention the popularization of striped suits and Glen plaid (aka Prince of Wales check).
A visual feast that puts the look of power into perspective.