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

Monday, 28 January 2008

Asking for the moon

I want a dress.

I don't want a dress that comes above the knee
I don't want a tunic dress
I don't want a wrap dress
I don't want a smock dress
I don't want a sleeveless dress
I don't want a clingy dress
I don't want a shift dress.

In other words I want an A line dress with sleeves, and which hits just below the knee. Preferably not black.

But I think I'll go and look for the formula that turns base metals into gold, a cure for Aids and peace in the Middle East instead. No point chasing impossible dreams

Shopping in Egypt

He climbed on board a pick-up truck, one of a dozen passengers wedged into the back, each paying 20 Egyptian pounds (£2) for what would have been a brief 20-minute drive along the main road. But to avoid the now frequent police checkpoints the truck took a tortuous journey along Bedouin tracks through the desert for two and a half hours. Twice the truck became wedged in the sand until Shuber, 30, and his fellow passengers got out to push.

Once in El Arish he found, to his dismay, that the police had closed all the shops and restaurants in an effort to send the hordes of Palestinian shoppers home.

"I don't know where I'm going. I just came to have a look," said Shuber. "I was hoping to buy some electronics, maybe a food mixer for the kitchen or something for the children. But the prices have gone up and most of the shops are shut."

. . .

Some had put up with long and difficult journeys. Sara el-Masri and her son, Ahmad, 12, had been made to walk through the desert for three hours on Saturday to bypass the checkpoints. She returned only with a handful of gifts from a friend she had visited. "I wanted to come for the adventure. In Gaza we have nowhere to go," she said. "I just wanted to see something different."

Rory McCarthy in El Arish, Egypt

Dark side of the moon

Hadley Freeman is on a roll this morning, explaining what exactly is wrong with polo neck sweaters, and why designers design so many clothes in black:

It's a sad truth, and one that I feel does our gender little credit, that so many women instinctively plump for black. Why, my sisters, why? Is this what we fought for, what we chained ourselves to railings for, what we burned some perfectly good bras for - to obscure ourselves in the colour of night, like Death Eaters from the world of Harry Potter? Good God, no. Surely a skating glance at any member from everyone's favourite Christian rock group, Evanescence, proves that black clothes against a pale visage do not an appealing image make. And lo, we have yet another example of what this column shall pithily call women-doing-something-that-they-think-will-make-themselves-look-better-only-in-fact-ending-up-looking- a-helluva-lot-worse (see also: dieting, wearing too small clothes or too high heels.)

Because that, I fear, is why designers have, as you memorably put it, a Henry Ford mentality. It's not that they're so keen on black - if anything, they find it a bit of a drag because there are only so many black coats you can convince the masses to buy - it's just that they know it's the one shade that's guaranteed to sell. Break the bonds of fear, ladies, because the sad fact is that the only skin shade that makes black look good is, funnily enough, black, and occasionally brown. On everyone else, black makes them look anaemic or like a pretentious French philosophy student (bringing us back to Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face - circle of life, eh?) And while few people want to look pretentious, absolutely no one wants to look like a philosopher. Ewww!

Thought for the day

Marguerite Duras by Avedon, 1993

People stop in amazement at the elegance of the foreigner who walks along unseeing. Like a queen . . . She's dressed in old European clothes, scraps of brocade, out-of-date old suits, old curtains, old models, moth-eaten old fox furs, old otterskins, that's her kind of beauty, tattered, chilly, plaintive and in exile, nothing suits her, everything's too big, and yet it looks marvellous. Marguerite Duras