We humans would rather have something a bit flawed but true than gloss-plastic perfection. On the surface, that doesn’t seem to be so—with ‘reality’ TV shows illustrating a life that’s nothing like reality and Instagram influencers filtered into poreless automatonica—but there is an undercurrent backlash to this that I see all around us. Our collective psyche is seeking to balance itself: enter Victoriana.
For the past ten years or so, you might have noticed an ongoing cultural love affair with all things Victorian. Dark Victorian period dramas are top-ranked TV series (Penny Dreadful, The Alienist, Ripper Street); alternative museums present a gentleman scholar, ‘cabinet of curiosities’ aesthetic, illustrating a delightfully jumbled curiosity for everything from taxidermy workshops, lectures on alternative esoterica, to magic lantern demonstrations (Last Tuesday Society, Morbid Anatomy); established museums celebrate their Victorian roots (Old Operating Theatre Museum); and everything from shopfront fonts to bearded dandies in Shoreditch give a nod to Victoriana.
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