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The House of Worth and the Birth of Haute Couture

2014-11-12 | 🔗

Before Charles Worth, the idea of ready made clothes for purchase didn't really exist. Neither did the idea of a design house that showed seasonal collections. This one man's vision invented the fashion industry as we know it today.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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better than sports. How do you find a new way forward when suddenly you have two ready or not, maybe or relocating, or having your first baby or leaving relationship just starting or just starting over on the road to somewhere? We talk about all of it, getting really honest and we definitely laugh our way through it. That's the beauty of this journey, Emily size and I'm Joe Herzog join us as we navigate our own big life. Changes on our part cast the road to somewhere, listen to the road to somewhere on the eye, her radio, app on Apple pie, gas or wherever you get your pod cas look into stuff. You missed in history from how Support Stockholm, hello, unwelcome trade movie. Will we get a lot of request to do more fashion? Really, the time can be specifically the one they were going to talk about. The baby said this person, seven motion, really the very concept of a design house and established the of the practices that are standard business for designers. Today I will go on along an introduction costs. It all comes out in the story
Does a man who, in the Paris fashion scene, in the late eighteen hundred, he really was sort of the others, refashion fur France at that point, Richard Oliver printers Mord. He is in fact, euros worth before we start could I do I'm glad you're around the field, all these requests about fashion history, because if it were me, I would be like once upon a time there was a garment and it went on people's bodies strikes me as hilarious, because the first time I met you you're in a costume. So in my head you're, like a fashion not like me, but the cost things I can handle better. Then, like the fashion thing you now to me they're all tied up together, get onto the subject. Charles Rick Worth was born October, thirteenth, eighteen, twenty five to William and Marianne Worth in Lincolnshire, England, the worth famine,
at that point was really well off. William was one of a long line of attorneys, but things didn't white stay so rosy early on in Charles of life. The tide of affluence really shifted. His father was an alcoholic and basic squandered the family fortune and when Charles is around eleven, he lost everything to the combination of drinking gambling and, as a consequence, both Marianne and young Charles suddenly, and have worked The position to have to support the family. while his mother took on cleaning jobs to make ends meet Charles. He was just twelve became a printers apprentice printing didn't really suit him, though, and after a year and that trade he went to work as a bookkeeper swan and EDGAR, which was a textile firm in London. he later shifted to the silk merchant trade, working for Louisen Allenby and he's and with them until eighteen, forty five, when he was twenty years old and then
Your time that worth was working on the business side of the fabric industry in doing bookkeeping and administrative tasks, he taking a lot more than the bookkeeping. He was watching dressmakers in their fashionable clients, select fabrics and choose design and he was learning as much as he could about textiles and the various qualities that separated luxury fat, for more utility. We use. He went on galleries and really those studied the fashions of areas as represented. Art and he equally observe the entire world of contemporary fashion. That was playing out in these fashion in these textile houses that he was working in by eighty Five we felt like he was ready to move out of the records office and into the actual world of fashion, so he left his job louisen around me and move to Paris. His first stop in France as Your work at guideline and opposition with
only his first real step into the fashion world bit. It also proved to be a really personal turning point as well there at the fabric and accessories shop that he would meet Marie Ver, nay, who sometimes model the shops. Goods and Charles and Marie fell in love, married in eighteen, fifty one and she still modeling accessories for the luxury shop. At that point, after their marriage and Charles kind of this did you put all of those years of self directed study to work, so he started to design and stitch gowns for her to wear while she was modeling the accessories at the highest shawls and laces that the shop provided this the attention of several of guidelines, customers, who would ask about marine lovely garments, worthless potential market and started to pitch an idea to his bosses. He would make gowns to sell, alongside the accessories that the shop is already well known for in worth's play
The shop would provide the raw materials and he would do all the work for contacts that may not sound particularly groundbreaking in the least to your listeners, but, prior to this, there was really no such thing as walking into a store, and to sing a ready made garments. So the idea of having a address Lucas, this done, would you like to buy it completely alien thing was made to order at that point, so the idea of marketing a finished gown was frankly radical. It just now. Had ever done it, and no one at that point even really thought it could be done. So this was before them. like uniformity of sizes. He couldn't walk in and say, hey, emphasise, eight or ten or twelve do you have? It was more like here, my measurements make my outfit well there also a little uniformity of sizes now well there's more than their use to mourn for sure than before
and private available sizing, it was much more uniform, but unfortunately, this grand idea of worth's was not met with enthusiasm by government and opaque, but boy by the fact that his dresses were quickly becoming the talk of fashionable circles. Eventually partnered with a swedish man. He met through his work. His name was Otto BO bear with after a decade of working for the accessories shop that worth set up shop with his new partner and a few dozen staff members, the business duo open Worth and Barbara in ruler pay in the Lee eighteen fifties and the start of words shop wasn't really an instant success. You man and his faded, like he so grand making people already or talking about him they didn't really take off doing busters like they hope he had customers, but it just was not the blockbuster that he and barbaric envisioned. He me
We're gonna have to reach out to prominent and stylish people to get them interested in his clothes and build his reputation. Nowadays, for example, asking a celebrity who their wearing is director on red carpet. But this is it concept. That's pretty much entirely worth doing. No one really talkative! designers like they would certainly share o. I have again make sure you could use, but it wasn't lake That level of you know cachet it two it where they would be like all. This is the one rosebud tat a little bit more talk about her again a little bit later, but just not not the thing. To talk about your designer, while for a walk with Marie one evening, Charles noticed that Princess Pauline the Metternich of Vienna, and that was the wife of the austrian ambassador to Paris, she was travel in her carriage on her way to be presented at court. He was improved
with her demeanour and how she carried herself, and he thought she could be the perfect ambassador for him among the royals and the wealthy, Then, a few weeks a meeting had been arranged, so he sent Marie to present the princess with a book of fashion, sketches that her husband had done. At that meeting, the princess, two gown. She paid only three hundred francs for each which was certainly not cheap, but for some one of her It really was not a terrible expense and she also promised to wear one of them to an upcoming balls. She kind of was in on the plan from the big Blake hey. It would be great if you would wear our clothes and show them to your friends. The dress was white tool with silver threading and it was embellished with daisies than diamonds, which just sounds happy in sparkly? To me,
The ball was hosted by Napoleon the third and Empress Eugenie, and you did. It was a striking woman in a ride at the ball, also in white tool, and she had this garland of fresh flowers in her hair, and a lavish spread of diamonds everywhere else wow by all accounts. The empress was certainly the bell of the ball. If anything you read about her critically about that evening. They talk about just how incredibly luminous and beautiful she looked Many people regarded. Her is one of those beautiful women of the day, but she Indeed notice the gown princess Metternich was wearing and she actually enquired about it and when the poor This mentioned that it was made by an Englishman named worth and they discussed it briefly. The effort then requested that he come to visit her immediately the next day, and so bad choice career sort of took off at a really dizzying speed. But before we get to that genetic, a word from a sponsor,
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subject for a gentleman of that time and true. When he went to jewellery to meet the empress, you would expect man to be, or anyone really informal dress on fishing, occasion, but he had on casual clothing a moray. This then we'll talk about it a little bit more later, but he really seems like he was maybe the mould maker for the bohemian artists, designer that has really followed events. Whether they people or unconsciously are doing so. Do you know any time you, Consciously or unconsciously are doing so. You know any time you sort of think of those people that sort of carry themselves with a little bit of pretence, then, tens and their artists, it, I think, worth They have been the Genesis point of a lot of the stereotypes with it that way come up with around artists.
But his timing, more importantly, when he met Princess Metternich, had really Ben impeccable because he had managed to get his foot in the door with the royal class. At this time the Empress Eugenie with Napoleon. The third urging was really looking to up her game when it came to style and fashion, she wasn't fashionable and she had style, but she really was tended to be a little bit more simple than than one would antics and what the people tended to desire in the woman who sat at the this huh its position in France. So it was really in her best interests to cultivate. Stylish image. so while she had a natural style and she was biology, It's very elegant. She really someone to shape her wardrobe worthy into one that would be worthy of her station, and that is the point air, Charles Worth, entered her dressing room during that first meeting which was held in her dress.
She ordered one evening dress from the designer and that doesn't sound like a lot, but it would work out to be the first of many. Oh yes, he is basically providing all of her clothes of time went on and in addition to the wonderful timing of meeting Eugenie just ass, she was plodding a wardrobe overhaul. It was also inventing the idea of a fashion designer, at the same time, that court function. Really required. Multiple wardrobe changes each day and weary, same. Dress twice was something of an image suicide. There are, in fact, stories of Eugenie withdrawing invitations to people after they had appeared court and had not been stylish enough. He then was like hey. You know how I said come back next week. I didn't mean that I'm gonna withdraw that and she just white direct and said, like you know, due to clothing that was unbecoming. So, basically, at this point as he's getting married, Eugenie wants an overhaul and for everyone else,
and even the higher strata of social structure. If you wanted to hang out a french court, you really better have a closet full of incredibly sumptuous finery and people knew that he was addressing the embrace was demand constantly morning. A night is popular, grew so quickly that the street outside of his shop was said to be constantly clogged with carriages. The shop itself Crowded with wealthy patrons you were there to socialize and to be seen in the shop as well as to actually order gowns and for his power Worse, really basque than the spotlight he would entertain profile customers. You know in a group he would stare and chat with all the Ladys, and he would hear this that to me sounds so horrible, but I and see where it would appeal to the society. He would. all one or another woman like whoever he picked at any given moment in their little social circle forward.
and then he would critique their ensemble had the two What not aware yeah, I was once a media tank I presume, if you were going to visit him, you probably already tried to be turned out and look is as good as you possibly could. But that sounds very scary me, and sometimes he would be very positive and say: oh, you look beautiful. You know this is not working, but he would also critique people and tell them like your outfit is horrible and here's what needs fixing an you might think this kind of behaviour could potentially DR customers away. It did not it kind of up his appeal here designing not only for Empress Eugenie, but even the likes of Queen Victoria and Empress Elizabeth. He designed it the coronation down when she became queen of Hungary and so
A high end, gown from the house of worth, could run as much as ten thousand dollars, although there were customers and clients that do not spend that much someone's been that much in a year, but some would drop at much at a pop and that's a lot when you consider mediating hundreds Also part of his sort of mystique or his cultivated malady. refugee me would sometimes heads with him about how a garment down should be executed or what clause should be used, but she basically was caved in to what he wanted to do, which is seeing a great deal about his power. You know who this is, most powerful and in the country I know no. You're wrong: just let me do my thing and should go She ended up Nick naming him the tyrant of fashion by eighteen, sixty so five years and in his creative relationship with the empress worth had become the affair
a quarter of the french court and its estimated that his fashion house was producing between ten thousand and eleven thousand pieces a year in gowns and outer aware to keep the finest Ladys in France outfitted in the latest styles. with that level of output. Obviously he was doing all the stitching himself. He maintain The integrity of his brand, though, by just being a really conscientious manager. He the governments to the highest quality standards here only the best, seamstresses and dressmakers to execute his designs. One sort of signatures of his clothing was the interior of the garment garments had finish so well that they would rival the outside in beauty like this snow, ugly, interiors everything was beautiful inside him out here so used only the finest fabrics, his textiles This could really make a year for a waiver
We all had been known as a hub of really acts, was exquisite, silk and worth take advantage of having such incredible fabric so close by and has adopted home country, style. Mills would send worth samples and the hopes of getting a lucrative order out of it he really you know. His word was gold in terms of the textile whirl world like if he endorsed a particular weaver, whether or not he did a huge order for that year. They basically we're gonna, do great. For that year. And it's his fame prestige grew worth, as you may have. Some hope from our anecdote a few moments ago about how he would critique ladys outfits in front of their peers can sometimes be a bit of a pill. his mannerisms would sometimes come off as affected. He kind of really did culture, This personality of being a collect, being a little bit nutty. He would often we're really colorful robes and he
wore his signature, blackberry or black skull cap and at one point he decides He was gonna design, his own code of arms, which he did and had it worked into the gates of his home. in some ways he became almost is famous for his ego is for his designing talent. We do not have that ever seemed to distract people from thinking. His work was amazing, and so things were going swimmingly for him and he was the darling of the french court until circumstances intervened. She ll talk about after another
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the Franco pressure more of eighteen. Seventy, the house worth like many high and businesses in France. Closed temporarily. Charles was great benefactor, the Empress Eugenie was forced into exile and the riddle. A pay home of the house of Worth actually became a hospital for french soldiers during the fighting, but once the cat afflicted embedded in the dust have settled the house, the worth reopen, surprisingly, to even greater success. though Auto Barbara, was no longer part of the business. Had been uneasy about setting the shop up again after their first at their first venture, was so abruptly cut short due to the political climate so worth blah blah. Out his share of the empire for one point, five million francs and while most of his friend clients were gone, he still have plenty of wealthy Brandt bands from the United States in Europe who were happy to order gowns soap, This was really booming, even though the climate with so much different, so
so that the tiny shop that started with just fifty employees wonder swelling to a staff of more than a thousand Yeah! I see every week we ve heard it so many times before when we ve talked about design is or Pino people there, make their living in a sort of the extra again arenas that something will have like a war, and they never quite recover, but in fact he's sort of the exception that proves the rule. He didn't great after the war However, as is career, stretched into the eighteen eighties cachet started the ebb, when the ground breaking down maker died in eighteen. Eighty five he had really already been eclipsed by the next generation of designers, including package, and to say, of course, would have been no next generation of designers if worth had not paved the way when files worth died. His sense guess, stall and John Felipe inherited the family, business and thou art really well for a lotta years,
I'll handle the business side of things while shamefully that other designing. through the years other family members also worked. The fashion house that was started by Charles Worth However, eventually there was the anti corset movement and a trend towards simpler lines in those relax previous podcast subject pulp worry as that, they called the house of found its business slowly dwindling year by year, and it finally closed up shop for the last time in nineteen fifty six, but I think to read understand the importance of Charles worth stature in fashion history, we have to some other genuinely revolutionary ideas that he introduced animals. With one that did not stick around, but it completely different. Victorian fashion for a lot of people, and that is the bustle So over time he evolved the crinoline, so the the wide bottomed addresses into a part.
crinoline, which stuck out behind the lady, so it gave her kind of a large rump shape and projected beyond that, while the front of her silhouette remained Nero for the most part and when people today victorian fashion. It is Usually the bustle that springs to mind in the silhouette like they'll go course it and then bustle is usually second and that's. Because of worth and just for the record. I of Buffalo downs. I love love, love, Buffle gowns. I have said, you know what at the top of the absurd where I was like a garbage, and it goes on your body. I also love Brussels. and part of that is because of a costume class that I took. That was all about draping, bustles and different shapes that you could get with different bustle, drapes a and in another, completely new approach to fashion. Remember prior to this time love that silhouette, I can't even describe why it looks beautiful order. fund, aware well
to be fair, there were people who thought it was ridiculous that at the time I remember editorial cartoons that were alike earlier, the snail attached the back of her body, so Dressmakers were often dubious of new technology, but worth really embraced. The sewing machine as a way to expedite production without sacrificing quality and he also used manufactured friends on his garments before people widely accepted that either he was just ahead of his time. Men in his visions for fashion. There, completely new approach to fashion? Remember prior to this time, all pretty much. All garments were made to order specifically for the wearer, but worth wit, sell his original garments that he had made to foreign buyers and he also sell rights to copy and distributed as Rina the ring needed style. So basically, he was selling the rights to make copies. So
design licensing was born with him and on a relief Business model, he would actually ready to wear gowns to sell to department stores abroad departments. you are completely new concept, so you know the eye that he was like you I'll get in on this and willing to take this can sell to them was really huge, so Despite being the designer of really lavish gowns for the elite, Ladys of France, furrows worth also the first designer to really turn a practical I to the length of ladys gowns during this time the him victorian gowns words is notorious for dragging on the ground and getting completely filthy. Any time there was dampness are mud and work This was really a pity that we shorten the hymns of day gowns to create what came to be known as the walking skirt and these it's really weren't all that short, but it was enough to stay lifted off the ground while still offering kind of a head to toe appearance. Anna
In case we were not entirely clear. Those words like the day gowns for an evening where it still was full length, but forgetting town and running your errands and going calling. You could actually strolled about without getting too mucky. And the house of Worth and both were, is widely considered to have been the first true fashion house, in its the line between being open to the public and also being very exclusive so upon. Three customers were greeted by gentlemen in fine attire, the shop was DEC, did really sumptuously beautifully, and then these customer would be brought to one of the shop salons to see either a presentation of available gowns. They could also good so fond of you. Ve fabric samples and design sketches all day go in this room to try and outfits that had the space. He lighting designed for it, it was slightly doom. Did it was meant to mimic the lighting they would most probably find at like a ball or another formal events before
worth. No one had ever thought to create a whole series of garments too then present together is a fashion share, so the concept of a collection there's another one of his innovations now there's whole industry and culture around seasonal showings of different designers, and that really started with Charles Worth. yeah when new. If anybody watches project runway and they all talk about going to fashion, weaken like fashion we have existed in. The form it was today had Charles worth not been there is a limit to do and I put together a bunch of beautiful outfits. But on a little show that people can order them? That's how it still today and it's all because he did so because he was the first designer to offer a collection and market ready to wear gowns and produce a large volume of garlic. Each year its. Probably no surprise that he is the one that came up with the idea of standardized patterns in this holds today to some degree worth in his dressmakers and drink.
We developed a series of pattern sleeper so to oversimplify what a slippery is like a basic block pattern that can then be modified and these pattern pieces would work interchangeably with one another. So anything you collar and the collection could be used on any bodice in the collection and it just streamline the whole process of men, accurate these garments, but still maintaining a really high level of quality. So that idea of adding a signature to a garment. The way a painter would sign. A piece of art was really unheard of until Charles Worth, you started exactly that with labels and prior to have, the idea of telling someone who you were wearing would have been really I'd, but events would have liked someone the name of your maid if they said that your home look very nice the label became sort of a status symbol
some of this, of course, is also tied to invest realisation so as to make a comparison to our Marie Antoinette episode and respirator. Ladys. Marie Antoinette Sarah would never have said. Oh I'm wearing rose there. Tat in the same way that someone would say: oh I'm, wearing a worse, but part of that was due to the fact that you know, if rose tat made or embellish to dress for someone. Everyone already knew it Sort of so am I to be really Susie in her clients. Either she really only serviced people of the french court. worth certainly service. The french court, but he also like we said, was open to the public so He was also working in a time when the garment industry was diversifying the there were more choice, for consumers. Industrialization was allowing a lot more garment houses to open up that were necessarily design houses because produced clothing and also because
he licence things. There were also copycats that we're not licence that were starting to crop up so wearing an original worth did indeed have clout and eighty sixty eight Charles Worth established the official classification of output, you're to be able to claim status as an earthquake. Your house, a designer, had to be recognised as such by a division of the Ministry of industry. Known as the somber cynical delight, woodcutter worth, stab list, both the sombre and their requirements, but a design has had to meet in order to earn this honour. So it's cool. By a designer of hand, finnish customers clothing, had to employ at least twenty artisans and a laboratory environment. And so a minimum number of new designs every year, definitely there were strands in technical and creative standards and the list of diviners allowed to use. This label still exists.
its reviewed every year when usually there only about a dozen houses that are on that any given time frame this kind of lost a lot of its meaning in the modern vernacular, but it really represents the absolute highest level of excellence for a design and artisans go through or apply embellishment and make sure every seem is perfect in talking about couture and mentioned So it really is quite a high honor and quite a level It's really much more specific than I think people realize, because again, thank you can't say, Designers are oak. Tour, like you jump or here, is an officially recognised oak, couture designer but MA, designers are not again. This is a very short lists and really does represent an extremely high standard. There was a video and I'll try to find it, so we can put it in the show notes that is not strictly
our goal. But it is a video of sort of what goes into a modern, ok to her gown, and you see all of the hours of painstaking labour that really really technically skilled yours and artisans go through to apply embellishment and make sure every seem is perfect in every scene. Again, the ins this just as beautiful as the outside. So it really is, quite a high honor and quite a level of excellence that associated with that term, whereas you will hear it mentioned television in and film on time, and it's not really exactly the correct usage of it. I mean I used the sloppy use. It is well I'm not judging anybody, but just for clarity that the scoop of it you're. The US have listener male healthier time of year holdings today either. I would talk about a few of the beautiful postcards that we have gotten from sinners. I won't revolve postcards, but I will describe them and talk about who there from the first one, is
our listener. Jackie, and it is the red room. This is it the house on the rock which is in force and actually but it is phenomenal and I I kind of think we should start putting scams or Paragraphs of some of these really amazing postcards on our facebook page. Maybe and she just ass red ass, a cute little man but it's a beautiful gorgeous picture of this incredibly something flee, appointed room. I can't even describe all the things that are in their string instruments some lovely taxidermy, there's some beautiful ornate, jilted furniture, it's just amazing. Its gorgeous postcard is, from our listener, Lieutenant Jessica. start about how she was introduced to the pond cast by her sister She is currently in Japan and she's Intervene on the long flight amounts of the bullet. Dream rides listening to broadcast and she said
a really really beautiful postcard of mischievous, using kimono and it's absolutely darling. It's an old would block, and I love it so much I can't, even if it is then again, I want to really put these because they're so beautiful, so in this last time I when I got it, I gasped, because I love it so much. It is Listener Jesse, and it is a silk screen illustration of Elsa Winchester is the bright, a frankenstein that she did and it is absolutely gorgeous. I may frame it she went back and listen to the Elsa episodes after we did the Bela Lugosi episodes, so she in the end in the mood as we did, our hollowing stuff. She for the record, is in the spanish Dracula camp. We talked about in the Bela episodes that they had. Finally, they formed a SEC version of in Spanish at night after the main production would of for the day
there's some film historians today who think that the spanish version is actually better film. Apparently Jesse is in that camped. So thank you for all of our listeners. It sends postcards. I do want to try to figure out a way time permitting, which is the challenge to get some of these really beautiful ones up on our facebook, page or elsewhere. Just so, people can also enjoy the cool stuff that you are sending us. I love it so much so. Thank you. If you like to write to us really the best way to get your stuff scene. If you want us to address the thing, is the hour email history pocketed the bookstore com, You can also connect vessel respect our complex, missed in history, in history on twitter list in history that tumblr dot com, printers dotcom, Slash missed in history. I can't wait to pick a bunch of worth account. There are already a bunch of their strong fashion born, and you can also visit missed in history that spreadsheet dot com, where you can get tee shirts bags.
bugs for your warm copy that you will need this winter goodies, though also deeply toasting, etc. If you to learn a little bit related to what we talked about today. If you go to our parents, site has to works and utopian Charles Worth's name in the search bar. You will get an article of how french traditions work and one page of it does take about fashion, and how mentioned briefly, how Charles Worth, even though he was originally an Englishman, he really services even himself with the integrity of history or so France sort of claims him as theirs and he's mention another article. You can also visit our history website missed in history dot com. If you would like to look at our entire archive of episodes at shone out Tracy
written, a wonderful blog post on how to find any back episode that the other subjects are interested in and want to know. If we did it, we used to try to search for things and and send them because way when they inquired about complex that we had already done, but the volume of mail and Facebook notes about that is getting to be a little bit more than we can. Possibly even keep up with so retracing fabulous bloodthirsty will know how to do that yourself and if he was, I learned about almost anything your mind can country you can do that that our parents fight Helstone forged. I come to visit us as Mr Mauro. Thousands of other topics that have worked. Available now from my heart, a new series presented by T Mobile for business, the restless ones join me
Jonathan Strickland as I explore the coming technological revolution would be restless business leaders who stand right on the cutting edge. They know there is a better way to get things done and they are ready, curious, excited for the next technological innovation to unlock their vision of the future in each episode will learn more from the restless ones themselves and dived deep into how the five g revolution could enable their teams to thrive the restless ones, is now available on Iheart radio AB or wherever you listen to pod casts. We are Owing to ITALY. After the success of last year's strips of Paris, we are planning another similar trip still with defined destinations this time, Rome and Florence yeah we're I spent a week exploring some amazing things. We're gonna have city tours of both roman Florence, we're going see the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican Museum in the Sistine Chapel sepia.
basilica Vatican City. This is just a tiny fraction of all the stuff we're gonna get to do, get its may. Fourteen to twenty. First, twenty twenty answered: yet more information go to define, destinations, dot, com and scroll down to the roman foreign strip, with stuffy missed in history glass.