Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Life and fate

I have spent the past week in Toronto interviewing a woman who is a survivor of the worst crime of the twentieth century

She asks me not to reveal her age, but she was transported to Auschwitz when she was a teenager in 1944 so do the sums. And here she is, sitting drinking cocktails in a John Galliano jacket, Versace t-shirt, bootcut jeans, Roger Vivier shoes and Dior bag, talking about her friends Giorgio Armani and Valentino. Sometimes there is justice.

She is also an object lesson on how not to grow old. How if you have the indomitable will, the taste and the chutzpah you can tear up that mutton-dressed-as-lamb rule book. She left me with a great deal of think about. Such as a closet with absolutely no black in it (but a pink mink).

You'll be able to read the full story, in the book of the Thoughtful Dresser, in February. Pre-order now!


Anonymous said...

The best revenge is to live well, as they say.


Toby Wollin said...

Well, from reading the Roman Vishniac photo books, I'm not sure who exactly won, since that world, in Eastern Europe and the western Soviet states, was in many places literally wiped off the map. Individual cases of survival and indominatable spirit, of course, are an entirely different issue.

lagatta said...

She'd be about 80. A little older than my Parisian friend of Italian-Jewish origin who had to wear the yellow star and could not play in public parks, and whose family's lives were saved by an Italian (officially fascist) funcitonary who issued them a phony "Certificato di Arianità".

Here is a page on that particular caricature of murderous racist nonsense for any readers who speak Italian: (we know typical Italians are pink-skinned "Aryan" blonds with little turned-up noses and flaxen hair...).

Toby, you are right, and the culture of Yiddishland in particular is all but extinct. In some ways we have to be careful about individual cases of survival, inspiring as they are, as the "destruction of European Jewry" was an unfathomable loss for humanity.

I think it is possible for both ideas to coexist. The survivor parents of two people very dear to me died this past year. One (friend's mum) died at almost 100, the other, (other friend's dad) was perhaps 97 or 98. Both were German-speakers by the way. They had the satisfaction of outliving most of the persecutors.

But the Parisian friend would find a wardrobe bereft of black very odd indeed!

Rosaria said...

I have a very stylish, older, blonde friend who is now aged 60, and she has jettisoned black from her wardrobe, with the exception of accessories. The other day we went to lunch, and she wore a simple, berry-colored jersey dress with antique gold earrings and she looked a million dollars. I on the other hand, unwilling to give up black, faded into the late afternoon gloom. And you can guess who the male diners noticed.