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

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Scotsman interview

There's an interview with me in today's Scotsman newspaper, in which, among other topics, I speak of the readers of this blog:

Grant, who has been interested in clothes all her life, last October even started a blog,, as a forum for intelligent discussion. It is subtitled: "Because you can't have depths without surfaces."

But isn't it dangerous, taking fashion seriously? Doesn't she run the risk of being dismissed as frivolous. Is it any sillier than talking about football, a topic near and dear to men's hearts? "Yes, it's identical. And the world wouldn't cease to exist if football ceased to exist; you can live without it, but you can't live without clothes.

"In terms of living without fashion, it's very difficult to find any society which has suppressed the interest in dress and clothing. The Puritans tried it for ten years – a complete failure. So they go to America and try to do it there and again it's a failure. It must be a deep human instinct to adorn the body, to change it through clothing. I would say that it's as central to our nature as a desire for art.

"I wanted to write about clothes the way women think about clothes. It's not the case that if we write about clothes we might as well write chick lit. Judith Krantz wrote the very first books that really talked about labels. She was good at portraying how people got dressed and what they wore at a given moment. I felt it was possible to incorporate that into literary fiction. I felt it was a subject generally neglected by male writers in the 20th century, because it's not manly. But we all wear clothes and most women are interested in them. In this novel clothes are at the centre of absolutely everything and at the heart of the book. It's asking questions about survival and how clothes affect a multitude of situations."

. . .

Her next project is a non-fiction book exploring why clothes matter and why we care about what we wear. To that end, her blog is partly a research tool. Via the comments section, Grant has discovered her readership comprises a highbrow crowd, women who work in embassies, in politics, even someone using a Nasa log-in. This doesn't surprise me at all, being an intelligent, fashion-curious gal myself. I can't wait to read this as-yet-unwritten book. In the meantime, I'll console myself with Grant's backlist.

read the rest

Daily Telegraph review

Naked we come into the world, and naked we leave it. Linda Grant, whose career spans both prize-winning fiction and journalism about fashion, has written a novel about the way clothes can offer a new beginning, even in the face of bereavement.

Transformers: clothes maketh the woman
Transformers: clothes maketh the woman

Vivien, her heroine, has lost both her husband and her father in one year. Dumpy and despondent, she passes by the boutique where Eunice, her Uncle Sandor's ex-mistress, is having a closing-down sale.

Her encounter with Eunice - and her discovery of her tapes of Uncle Sandor's memoirs - lead to an account of her past.

This includes her relationship with her immigrant Hungarian parents and her wicked Uncle Sandor - a rogue inspired by the slum landlord Peter Rachman, whom her father loathes, and forbids her to see: "My parents had brought me up to be a mouse. Out of gratitude to England, which gave them refuge, they chose to be mice-people, and this condition… was what they hoped for me too. And whatever Uncle Sandor was, he was no mouse."

This vivid, enjoyable and consistently unexpected novel is like Anita Brookner with sex.

Amanda Craig in the Daily Telegraph

Made in Italy?

In Harvey Nichols yesterday with my sister we came across the Alberta Ferretti dress I hope to have copied.

It's a stunning dress but, as my sister pointed out on close examination of it, do we really want to pay £895 for a garment whose side seam is puckered from under the sleeve to the bottom of the hem? And would one put up with that if one was having it made by a dressmaker?

Thought for the day

Diana Vreeland

Three-tenths of a good appearance are due to nature; seven-tenths to dress. Chinese saying.