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Fashions Fade but Style is Eternal

FASHIONS FADE BUT STYLE IS ETERNALHow people dress tells you a lot about them.  Did you glance in your full-length mirror just then?  A man in rags will ask for a euro to fill his stomach (allegedly), whereas a toff wearing white tie and tails will ask to fill your dance card with his name.  You certainly sound popular.

Fashion is an instant language which some men never learn to speak, unfortunately, although most women are fluent in the parlance of designer chic.  Audrey Hepburn proved the truth of Karl Lagerfeld's dictum that "One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress."  And it won't show any caviar stains if you are having breakfast at Tiffany's.  (Why did Lagerfeld say "One"?)

'Babe' Paley, voted the world's second best dressed woman - after Wallis Simpson, oh dear - once changed fashion by tying a scarf around her handbag, causing a trendy tidal wave copied by millions of women.  All because her bag clasp was broken, perhaps.

There have always been style icons, some of them men.  Beau Brummell was a dandy in Regency England who 'made cotton stockings and dingy cravats a thing of the past.'  He took 5 hours a day to dress and had his boots polished with Bollinger champagne.  According to Beau, to be truly elegant, you should not be noticed.  How elegant that makes me feel.  He eventually died shabby and insane in France, after being in debtors' prison.  He should have polished his boots with sparkling wine.

david aitkenThe amateur detective and foppish clotheshorse Philo Vance was always 'scrupulously correct in his dress, yet unobtrusive' -- unlike Lord Byron, who liked to dress up flamboyantly in exotic cloaks and turbans and wore curl-papers in his hair at night.  His daughter Ada was a founding figure in the field of computer programming, an idea which makes my hair stand on end.

Not only clothes can influence fashion.  Think of David Bowie with a lightning bolt on his face, and Salvador Dali, whose shoe-shaped hats and upturned wax moustache were part of his brand.  Dali avoided paying in restaurants by adding drawings to the cheques he wrote, confident such valuable pieces of art would never be cashed, except in Scotland.

Hermes created the Birkin handbag in honour of the singer Jane Birkin, and you can buy one nowadays for half a million dollars, lucky you.  Kim Kardashian sometimes wears bandage dresses, useful for both traffic accidents and fashion disasters, and of course Lady Gaga often lives up to her name.

Kindly clothes designers offer us new fashion choices 4 times a year, perhaps in the belief that fashion is like eating, you should vary your menu to increase your happiness.  (According to Bo Derek, "Whoever said that money can't buy happiness didn't know where to go shopping.")  Perhaps most of us would agree with Mary Quant that fashion as we knew it is over: "People now wear exactly what they feel like wearing."  That provides me, at least, with a quantum of solace.      


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