3000 BC (before couture)

The London Lassie looks back at how Ancient Nile Style has been carved into the modern fashion world…

Millennia before couture there was a world that has facinated designers, architects, and film makers alike. Ancient Egypt was enriched with luxury, spirituality and style. Style that still sporadically resurects. Everytime we skillfully stroke kohl eyeliner, we’re engaging in a trend thousands of years old.

In the 1920’s Tutankhamun’s tomb was found, introducing the world to Egyptian style.  This decade sparked a change for women – discovering they had a voice. Fearless flapper girls were born. They adopted sharp bobs and heavier use of cosmetics like kohl, similiar to powerful Pharoh Cleopatra.

Decades later in the swinging sixties iconic model Jean Shrimpton was photographed wearing a Pharoh-style gorgerine necklace. Shrimpton caused a sensation when she wore a dress ending above her knees to the conservative 1965 Melbourne Cup. Elizabeth Taylor also caused controversy whilst filming Cleopatra (1963) due to her turbulant love life. She famously asked the directer for a million dollars as a joke – he gave it to her. There seems to be a correlation with Egyptian style and powerful woman.

By looking at the current SS12 collections it’s clear to see the Egyptian theory that nothing dies was right, the trend is reborn. Be awed by Alber Elbaz’s Lanvin collection. With luxuriously draped material, gold plated shoulders, and encrusted snakes teasing their way towards the neck, it’s clear Elbaz had a lady of the Nile in mind when designing this collection. Marni’s collection delivered structured statement pieces infused with exotic prints which would look at home on ancient beauties. Holly Fulton added a playful edge to Nile Style with body-con pieces with startling shades such as turquoise and canary yellow. As well as this, Burberry Prorsum showcased gorgerine styles and colourful woven handbags.

Something to remember is that Egyption fashion in previous millenia was not just for the wealthy – peasants made exquisite jewellery from colourful pieces of clay. This is the same today. Cast your all seeing eye on the highstreet where Topshop is giving Egyptian fashion eternal youth. Accessories include elaborate arm cuffs, Scarrab beatle rings, and mummy earings. The Unique collection includes a ‘Cleopatra Tee’, and a ‘Hyroglyphic Dress’.

So why has this trend stayed for millenia? Simple. Ancient Egypt was ahead of its time. We feel modern and on trend when dressed like this, even though we’re wearing ancient styles. Egypt was home to powerful woman, like Cleopatra. Also, we are still learning about this fascinating era. Hence, a woman who wears this style will encompass these wonderfully special traits – beauty, power, and mystery.

‘Hieroglyphic Dress’ by Topshop Unique


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