This week I finally sent my book to our graphic designer! The manuscript includes over 425 illustrations, and we’ve taken over 5000 photos for it at about a dozen separate shoots, of which we’ve selected about 200 to be included in the finished book. Crazy thing is, even though we still have lots of work before this one heads off to the printer, I’m already obsessing about writing the next one, which I know is completely off the wall after such a tremendous amount of work. But I feel really driven because I love this concept and think you’ll love it too!
In any case, of course I got sick just as everything was wrapping up, and all this time spent feeling crappy has given me a chance to lie around and read Cintra Wilson’s Fear and Clothing, which I highly recommend.
I only knew Wilson for her Critical Shopper column in the New York Times, which never failed to entertain. I would liken her to a modern-day Dorothy Parker, which is funny because I just looked her up on-line and saw that others have said exactly the same thing. She has the same talent for the slightly snarky, extremely smart one-liners that Parker had. In the first part of the book she reveals a bit about her own sartorial history in the context of various places she’s lived, and she takes a road trip across the U.S. and observes how each “belt” has its own unique style. Her observations are hilarious and revealing, and she finds residents of each area whose style she genuinely admires, which was especially fascinating to me. The commentary on photos of these people is really quite endearing and insightful. I love fashion people who have a broad appreciation of personal style, and Wilson really appreciates style in all its various manifestations. She states at the very start of the book that we should all cultivate our own personal style, that even if you don’t think of yourself as being interested in clothing you are still expressing something about who you are and about what’s important to you every day in your clothing choices. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:
I am earnestly directed toward the goal of expanding fashion consciousness. I believe there is an unspeakably great benefit to unbuckling our perceptions of what we usually consider to be beautiful, and expanding these criteria beyond the narrow norms of our usual self-segregating cultural boxes and whatever fickle, airtight rules constitute the ever-mutating fashion laws prevailing at the moment…. Fashion is too joyful and important a way to empower yourself.
Instead, Wilson believes that fashion gives you the opportunity for self-discovery as well as a chance to transport yourself beyond your immediate surroundings and circumstances. That’s a pretty big claim, but I think she’s right. I also think she’s correct when she says, “We are at our most psychologically naked when we have our most deliberately selected clothes on.” Which goes a long way toward explaining those Big Day I-Have-Nothing-To-Wear fashion crises that we’re all familiar with. The book is filled with insights like this, all of which had me nodding with great happiness as I devoured the book.
The last section of the book was mostly reprints of her Critical Shopper columns, most of which I had already read. But when the writing and humor are this good, you don’t mind a re-read!
Somehow I’ve moved directly from Fear and Clothing into another fashion-oriented book, My Paris Dream, by former Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts. I’m appreciating this memoir for her recounted experience of moving to Paris and her insights on trying to be accepted into another culture. (Part of me suspects that it’s more difficult to be accepted into Parisian culture than into that of Madrid, but I suppose only time will tell.) In any case, if you’re looking for something good to read, I recommend both books. I’m only about half-way through My Paris Dream, but so far it’s been well-written and has allowed me to indulge my own Paris dream.
By the way, if you want to be friends on Goodreads, I’m right here.
So graceful. So simple. A lace cap sleeve.
Every time I look at this I think: quilt. Wouldn’t it be fun? In these colors, especially.
I can’t say I was aware that such a thing as a thimble case exists (whatever for?), but these hand-carved acorn thimble cases are tiny captivating treasures.
Not sure which I like better: the bamboo toothbrushes themselves or their packaging. I suppose it’s the perfect combination of the two that makes these irresistible. (My minimalist self is quite attracted to the black and white brushes.)
This fantastic living room could only be improved upon, in my opinion, with the addition of a hardwood floor. Otherwise it’s nearly perfect.
Weekend Reading (and Watching)
- This inspiring video about a very knowledgeable patternmaker who also happens to be 82 years old.
- A fascinating look at Jean Patchet, a fashion model in the 1940s and ’50s. I love to look back at this time period when fashion magazines and sewing were so intimately linked.
- The Metropolitan Museum is carefully archiving the papers of Charles James. It’s a huge job, and hopefully it will lead to some fascinating new insights on this genius designer.
- I’ll be dashing through London in a couple of weeks after teaching a fitting master class at Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham. (If you’re in the area, the class is long sold out, but you can still sign up for a free talk I’ll be giving.) While there I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of this exhibit, which looks to be a lot of fun. (The Tate Modern will take first priority, however….)
- An extremely comprehensive explanation of current Japanese Harajuku street fashion. I’ve always had a fascination with this style. I’ve seen a few similarly adorned young ladies in our Madrid neighborhood, and for a while we had a Harajuku-inspired dress shop in our New York neighborhood. I still miss it.
- The fascinating story of Christopher and Tammy Kane. Very rags to riches, and although I’ve always been a fan of their work, knowing more about their background makes me love their designs even more!
- A new blue pigment with an unusual pedigree and even more unusual properties.
Have a great weekend! I hope you’re sewing something fun, or at least useful.