In the early days after its construction in the 1730’s, “Saville Street” was home to officers of the British military. The next century it became the first home of the Geographical Society of London (today known as the Royal Geographical Society, RGS), which was granted its Royal Charter under Queen Victoria. The RGS was responsible for financing such notable expeditions as David Livingstone’s sojourn into Africa, which lead to the discovery of the Nile’s source (named Lake Victoria) by Sir Richard Burton and John Speke. The RGS moved its headquarters in 1913, which was also the same year that women were first allowed to join.
During the Victorian era, Saville Row become strongly associated with the tailoring trade, and today the street is lined with stores selling natty men’s fashion. On a literary note, Jules Verne gives Phileas Fogg, the hero of Around the World in 80 Days, the address of No. 7 Saville Row. There isn’t a lot to see today, so for me, the most compelling thing about visiting this area ended up being the nearby Burlington Arcade.
As an artist I am always on the lookout for public domain images that I can use in my artwork. As I was looking around for some botanical illustrations, I stumbled upon a delightful site devoted to posting and blogging about these kinds of images. Here’s a series of gems from an article called “The Future Dictates of Fashion,” by W. Cade Gall, and appeared in The Strand in 1893. The author claims to have found a book that is from 1993 and gives a “history of fashion” for the century to come. Time-traveling books?! You can’t get much more Steampunk than that!