Thursday, May 28, 2009

There Will Be Beauty

This article from the recent Vanity Fair (May 2009 issue) is written by A. A. Gill, currently a restaurant reviewer  with London's Sunday Times. It is in tribute to the beauty - indeed the relevance - of couture as inspiration, aspiration, and imagination.  Couture also protects cottage industries, fading traditions, almost-extinct skills and craftsmanship.  Enjoy...


There Will Be Beauty

May 2009

It’s one of the great metaphysical mysteries of our equal-opportunity, post-feminist, oh-god-is-that-the-time lives—Why do men’s and women’s buttons do up differently? Or, rather, why do women wear their buttons the wrong way round? 

Well, a long time ago, in a land far away, it was decreed that men’s buttons should do up the easiest way for a right-handed chap on the inside of a shirt, but women’s should do up for the convenience of a right-handed girl on the outside of a shirt. It was assumed that all ladies would forever and always be dressed by their maids. (Who dressed the maid?) And the silent, servile, pursed mouth of a girl’s buttonhole still judges her a fingers-and-thumbs failure for having to do herself up. It is a ghost of couture, a reminder that once all clothes were bespoke, handmade.

This season’s couture shows bloomed like gardenias in the monastery of the new austerity. The collections blew kisses at our plastic-belt-tightening in these dressed-down, hard times. Couture laughed extravagantly at the bonfire of banking, the end of ostentatious consumption. It was, let’s be frank, a let-them-eat-cake moment, and we asked, Who on earth is going to wear this stuff? Who has the gall? Where is the ball? The galas, the dinners, the soirĂ©es? Where are these yards of elegant swank going to be appropriate? Where is all this expensive good taste going to look tasteful? These were the wrong questions. 

We should have asked: Do we really and truly want a world without couture? Are we willing to throw away what we have on top of what has already been lost? Is there no place for the exclusive and the beautiful? For the hysterically indulgent? And the superbly crafted? You have no idea how sensational a couture frock is until you’ve held one, or worn one, as Emily Blunt does with Victorian insouciance here. The skill in making them, the satisfaction of the stitching, the delicacy of the beading and the lacing, the softness and the stiffness, the fall and the rustle and the silhouette. It is the perfect detachable cosmetic surgery. 

The ateliers that fabricate these clothes are the repositories of centuries of prestidigious patience and acute, minute observation passed from thimbled, nimble fingertip to fingertip. Couture is a promise to the future from the past: There will be entrances and orchestras again, carriages and candelabra again, parties and seasons again. There will be glamour again. Throughout the history of civilization, doom, doldrums, depression, and disaster have descended to paint the town gray. But they will also recede, leaving little but a shudder. What is left, what abides, is beauty.

The button thing. Of course, it also means that a lady is more easily undressed by a right-handed man. Need you ask? It was probably all instigated by the French.

A. A. Gill is a V.F. contributing editor.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Apology to Women Over 40

Even though this "apology" is not actually spoken by Andy Rooney and is an e-rumour, I thought the sentiment was worth posting and gives me something to look forward to as I approach 40 :)

For anyone who's interested in the originator, it's Frank Kaiser - the writer of Suddenly Senior -

Presenting the e-rumour that has been flying around the internet.
From 60 Minutes Correspondent Andy Rooney (CBS)...

As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think. If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting.

Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her. Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal.

For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?", here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!