HRR Fashion Seasons Done, Dusted and Now Lost to 2020
6 April 2020
By Thomas E. Weil
In this article, in The Dry Season Bottom-of-the-Barrel Series, Tom Weil presents some photos of fashion at Henley Royal Regatta of old.
For much of the Western world, Easter is the traditional spring fashion season. Sadly, while the day itself cannot be stripped from the calendar, the prevalence of COVID-19 renders the likelihood of the masses doing masses in their Easter outfits this year as quite illusory, the plaints of the aspirational leader of the free world notwithstanding.
Not illusory, however, is the absence of one of the greatest outdoor British fashion shows – the always inspired couture of Henley Royal Regatta. The decision of the Stewards to cancel the 2020 fixture guarantees that the uniquely colorful dress and regalia always on view at that splendid aquatic competition will be missing in action come July. (In the other highlights of the British summer social season, while Wimbledon has also been cancelled, the fate of Royal Ascot and the Derby still hang in the balance.)
While it would be politically incorrect to suggest that any HTBS devotees pay any attention to anything other than rowing at the HRR (and, for the avoidance of doubt, I know absolutely nothing about fashion), suffice it to say that the HRR would not be the HRR that it is without the displays of dress on view, ranging from the tribal (club blazers, boaters and ties) to the elegantly sublime to the unconsciously (or intentionally) outré.
The following photos of some Henley styles over the decades that followed the frilly excesses of the Victorian and Edwardian periods are offered as scant solace for the delights of dandy dressing to be missed this season. May they bloom and flourish again in a year’s time!
What a note on which to end. While the half century from the 1920s to the 1970s saw quite an evolution of dress styles along Henley Reach, this elegant outfit, donned four decades ago, could just as well have adorned a young lady in the 2019 Steward’s Enclosure. Plus ça change – but let’s see what awaits in 2021 …