Saturday, 8 November 2014

Judicial images: costume drama

A cluster of shop dummies are modelling sumptuous judicial robes not normally found together in the wild. Although headless, they appear to be engaged in conversation.

Christopher Allan, Court and Ceremonial Manager of Ede & Ravenscroft, reserves lingering Jeevesian distaste for the mean-spirited modern civil robes designed by a committee.
New male civil robe

I'm at a Judicialimages.org workshop run by professors from Birkbeck and the LSE.

The robes are a bargain. You wouldn't get a decent bespoke suit for four grand, the price of a QC's ceremonial outfit built on Tudor lines. Nor could you buy a couture evening dress with as much gold on it as a Lord Chancellor's robe for a mere £28k. The taxpayer gets better value from a robe than from a Lord Chancellor, as the former is more durable.

The audience are invited to try on wigs and gowns. I hold back as they would not fit me in more ways than one, but others succumb to the magic of silk damask, and begin to bear themselves with ritual grace.

These are outfits which, Mr Allan suggests, would get you arrested if you wore them on the Tube late at night.

'I'm surprised to hear them described as kinky,' muses Professor Alan Read of King's College, London, who has just shown us a photo of himself in a jailbait Fauntleroy outfit and long blond locks in the school production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, sharing the bill with Jane Campion who went on to direct The Piano.

Context is all. And you can't do it on the cheap. If the provenance of your party gear is H&M, a jumble sale, Portobello, Oxfam and Claire's, then no amount of Rigby & Peller will get you back on track. (The best part of the outfit is the brooch from the law firm Simmons & Simmons' Black Museum of Passing Off. I still don't know if it's Butler & Wilson or a fake.)

Coda: there will be an exhibition of my Supreme Court drawings at Pinsent Masons' Crown Place offices from 14 November until early January.






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