My fashionista

by Yule Heibel on August 9, 2003

Nearly a month late, but happy birthday “Mrs. Peel” (July 20, a significant date). If I could have been anyone, I would have been her in ridiculous pointy pale shoes, traipsing around London forever, and it would have been The End of History for me. But that only happens on tv. This is still one of my favourite series, and I haven’t stopped watching it because it’s so much fun. Il faut etre absolument moderne et on doit avoir les chaussures chouette. For a really good primer on Avengers fashion, see Reading between Designs by Britton and Barker.
Click on the pictures to explore other Avengers fashion sites.


Joel August 10, 2003 at 7:58 am

The British have a wonderful way of concocting series that pay no heed to reality and consequently are very entertaining. This is in contrast with American series of the same genres which take themselves very seriously and muck up quite a bit in the telling.

I liked The Avengers in its time and I liked Doctor Who. They never apologized for their campiness and literary excesses.

Betsy Burke August 10, 2003 at 12:59 pm

If only world leaders would try to emulate Emma Peel and John Steed- it would all be so much more CIVILIZED.

Yule Heibel August 10, 2003 at 7:56 pm

That would be a great change from current hot air style of leadership, Betsy. Do you know, it was Avengers policy never ever to show blood? (Of course that didn’t prevent abundant mayhem, but….)

Joel, I have a different take on the “reality” aspect. Get Smart or any of those other 60s American shows were as unreal and silly as anything Steed & Mrs. Peel contended with, but there are massive differences in style. For the American, “one of the most important elements of the show is the gadgetry created to help Smart,” while for Steed it was, naturally, one’s haberdasher. The British are much more savvy in exploiting the maxims and attitudes of Oscar Wilde. They overcome the pathetic problem of substance (content) by focussing on style (appearance), but in such a way as to show that it’s style that makes the substance and makes the beautiful. Yes, Mrs. Peel is conventionally beautiful, but she would be nothing without the stylish Steed, whose traditionalist dandyism offsets her mod wardrobe. Plus, she wears those clothes as only someone with true style can: qed, style is substance. Look what happened when the hapless Linda Thorsten took over as Steed’s partner after Mrs. Peel left (I won’t talk about Honour Blackman since those episodes are unavailable to me for review). Tara King, as Thorsten’s character was known, had to resort to lame jokes (“Tara raboomdeeay”) to make up for the utter lack of aplomb she possessed in carrying off her role.

Gadgets (technology) and pathos (content) are what drag American/ non-Brit shows down to earth, while syle and wit help the Brits overcome tiny budgets and other annoying minor limitations. That’s what I love about those shows so much.

I don’t have tv reception — that is, I have a tv and a vcr and a dvd player, but get no channels, none at all — and I don’t miss it. It’s not at all the stupid subject matter I object to (even if it is lame, I wouldn’t know, I haven’t seen a network show in years), but the absence of stylishness. I couldn’t bear to waste my time on the hackneyed pathos or the endless multiplication of useless gadgets that I suspect make up much of primetime tv. But I’d kill for one of Mrs. Peel’s catsuits!

Joel August 11, 2003 at 12:46 am

I agree with you regarding the comparison between Get Smart and The Avengers. I was thinking, however, of series such as Mission Impossible with their Cold War paranoia. Get Smart lampooned this and the gadgetry, which made it moderately refreshing.

When it comes to television programming, I watch more sci fi (when I do watch). Dr. Who was often much better written than your average Star Trek episode, IMHO, though the sets were no where nearly as good and sometimes the story lines were out and out ludicrous. They had style and they showed courage in their subject matter, particularly in what I call the “class struggle” series that featured Tom Baker and Louise Jamison as Lela the Barbarian.

Again, what makes up for the low budgets are the storylines and the flair.

Having watched only a few of the Next Generation episodes, I can only say that I got tired of the adolescent moralizing in each and every show that I saw. They’re geared to people who don’t do much aside from go to work, shop, and come home at the end of the day to watch television. “Don’t quit your job” seemed to be a common theme. “Don’t trust alternative point of views. Be loyal to your Federation (country).”

A British program (which took itself more seriously than most) called Blake’s Seven turned the whole Federation is good concept on its head by depicting the struggle of a group of rebels against an expansionist empire called “the Federation” which, among other things, ruthlessly brainwashed its opponents and drugged the working people. You will never see Kirk and Picard in quite the same light when you look at the whole “Star Fleet” mythos in this light.

Like you, I don’t have a cable hookup or video reception even though I live right below Mount Santiago. I did my watching of Dr. Who some ten to twelve years ago when I lived up in Silly Con Valley. It was enough watchable content to last a lifetime. The rest of what I see comes when I go on vacation.

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