The arts: a golden age for British cultureBy Melissa DenesElizabeth II’s coronation was the first to be televised.
Probably not, and an eternity of Royal Variety Performances is perhaps not the legacy she wants to hand down to her successors.
But TV has become the dominant art form: its audiences are vast; it’s an elastic, democratic medium that can do straight, silly, satirical, heart breaking.
It’s also an astonishing archive: Michael Apted’s 7 Up will be watched in 2212, when Simon Cowell’s shows are barely remembered.
The second Elizabethan age has brought us rock’n'roll, punk, standup comedy, computer games, YouTube, ebooks, digital photography.
We are more visual than verbal, although the enduring images of our era may turn out to be news photographs rather than anything by Lucian Freud or Tracey Emin: of 9/11, Abu Ghraib or Gaddafi in a meat locker.
We haven’t produced a Shakespeare, but we have produced Harold Pinter, Caryl Churchill, Sarah Kane, Roy Williams and Jez Butterworth.
Have any of them pervaded our culture – the way we dress, think, interact – as profoundly as the Beatles, David Bowie or the Sex Pistols.
Arguably not: rock’n'roll stakes a big claim to being the transformative art form, with the Brits (in an Anglophone world) key players.
Our attention spans may be shot by overwork and social media, but we’re still reading.
The novel has steered a steady course, briefly bothered by modernism, and now shaken by digital publishing.
(That revolution has only just begun; in the meantime, Hilary Mantel’s 432 page portrait of Anne Boleyn is this summer’s must read.) The era is extraordinarily rich in children’s literature: the work of Roald Dahl, JK Rowling and Julia Donaldson will be read – on whatever device – for centuries.
Architecture: the high rise of corporate BritainBy Steve RoseThe first thing that the current era will be remembered for is the end of low rise.
When Queen Elizabeth came to throne, the tallest building in Britain was St Paul’s Cathedral.
Churches, castles and palaces had dominated Britain’s skylines and architectural narratives for millennia, but now they have been superseded by a new typology: the corporate office tower.
The Post Office tower was dazzlingly modern in the 1960s, as was the NatWest Tower, which the Queen opened in 1981.
Steel, glass and post industrial labour define the age, though only a handful of examples will go down in architectural history – Norman Foster’s Gherkin and Richard Rogers’ Lloyds Building among them.
Elizabeth’s coronation, just two years after the Festival of Britain, marked the beginning of the era when modern architecture really gained a foothold here.
From the ruins of the blitz came concrete streets in the sky, planned housing estates, even whole new cities such as Milton Keynes.
Some of those experiments will be judged as failures, but not all, and surely no less than the tracts of mass produced brick shoe boxes that have become the alternative.
When it comes to comparing our current style to Georgian or Edwardian, will the defining motifs be PVC window frames, patio doors, Juliet balconies and double garages.
Or perhaps gated communities and pastiches of other eras, as favoured by her son Charles (who set out the stall for his own reign with the mock classical Poundbury village).
Will future historians simply look back on this as a dark, confused age where style got muddled up and everyone preferred to watch reality TV shows about property rather than engage with the real thing.
At least there’s public architecture to put a better gloss on her majesty’s reign: the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, Tate Modern and other galleries, new bridges such as Gateshead and London’s Millennium Bridge, the Channel Tunnel, the London Eye, the Eden Project.
Fashion: why the slogan T shirt says it allBy Jess Cartner MorleyThe second Elizabethan age has not been without fashion moments.
We have had the miniskirt and the minicrini; flower power and power dressing; punk and grunge; Twiggy and Kate Moss.
From Mary Quant to Ossie Clarke, Vivienne Westwood to Alexander McQueen, the most groundbreaking designers have emerged from the British fashion scene.
And from Carnaby Street in the 1960s to Glastonbury in the 2000s, the Queen’s country has led the world in street fashion.
But the garment that most defines what has changed in fashion in the past 60 years isn’t chic at all.
From 58% Don’t Want Pershing to Frankie Says Relax, from Just Do It to J’Adore Dior: the slogans of the era’s iconic T shirts are a potted history of pop culture.
(Before you declare yourself above the fray: what about that Gap T shirt you wear to the gym?)Before 1952, thanks to the weight of rules and conventions governing the clothes appropriate for social status, occupation and gender – not to mention the now forgotten power of parents over teenagers and ration books over everybody – the sartorial freedom we take for granted nowadays was unheard of.
The fashion revolution began with teddy boys and grew with the youthquake of the 60s.
We are less interested in listening to received wisdom (whether these be dress codes or expert analysis of the world around us) and more interested in telling the world what we think (by wearing a slogan T shirt or by posting our views on Facebook).
The irony is that, with all this newfound freedom to express ourselves, the most popular T shirt slogans are those sold to us.
Just Do It, the Nike slogan, is an individualist philosophy sold back to the masses in cookie cutter form with an inflated price tag.
In the last decade, as fashion has taken an ever more central position in pop culture, slogans have become increasingly self referential: think of Carrie Bradshaw wearing a J’Adore Dior T shirt in Sex and the City, and the designer name dropping T shirts with which Henry Holland made his name at London fashion week.
The most prominent fashion weeks are held in the four fashion capitals of the world: New York City, London, Milan, and Paris.
It was at the end of the first Elizabethan age that Shakespeare’s Iago said: “we will wear our heart upon our sleeve for daws to peck at.
Claire Cain is a fashion journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. Claire has a passion for fashion stories and loves writing about fashion news and fashion opinions that matters most to its audience. Claire spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest fashion industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on Stylerchic.com.