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

Monday, 28 July 2008

Is Harry a Groovy Old Man?

In today's Independent John Walsh casts a spotlight over what, as far as I am aware, has been a previously unidentified cultural demographic.
As he says mid-way through the article:
'The Groovy Old Men' started out as the children of post-war rock'n'roll, growing up in the forties, fifties, and sixties. They're probably the most fortunate generation in history. Lucky to have missed the war, most of them also missed rationing, national service, and austerity. But they witnessed the initial stirrings of rock music-Elvis, Bill Haley, Cliff (?) Buddy -the benefits of the pill, the apotheosis of the teenager, the rise of satire, the counterculture, the expansion of screen -based culture into the global village, the first wave of computers....No wonder Groovy Young Men turned out the way they did.' ( read full article here)

Well, apart from the absence of any mention of the Grateful Dead , recreational drugs , and tab-collar shirts, do I see myself reflected in this definition? Well, truth to say, yes. I have an i-pod, I go to the gym, and I did go to the Latitude Festival with my sons last year ( but not this year because I thought the music line-up was dull).
As for the other observations that Mr Walsh enumerates: they are well made and we get the picture- it all serves pretty well as a journalistic approximation.
But what reading this rather engaging article on- line won't show you is two things. Firstly the pleasing absence of any photo of the ghastly ego on legs that is Mick Jagger. It's about time that he wasn't trotted out as the icon of our generation. He never was. In Harry's opinion he is a shallow show-business construct of his own making, and he fronts his own tribute band. Which is sad , rather than impressive.
Instead the article in the paper is pleasingly illustrated with photos of Terence Stamp, Bill Nighy, and Paul Smith, amongst others. Each, in their own way, with an admirable degree of style, and, I would surmise, a mature and idiosyncratic take on, well, getting older.

Harry Goes To Paris

Just for three days. But time enough for art, shopping, dining, and good conversation.

My very urbane and charming host James suggested either the Richard Avedon or Annie Liebowitz exhibitions currently on in Paris.
I plumped for the Avedon. I had had a dose of Ms Liebowitz at the Vanity Fair show at London's National Portrait Gallery earlier in the year. There is only so much contrived celebration of celebrity one can take I feel.
The Avedon was splendid.Of course much of his early fashion work was located in 50's Paris. And very captivating it was. But the aesthetics and glamour of the fashion work were pleasingly juxtaposed against the later, mesmerising, portraits. Samuel Beckett in Paris, the Beatles caught in that moment when they were growing from boys to men. And the Monroe shot. How over-played and overused her image has become. But here was one I had not seen before, almost without artifice, finally looking like a real person.
In the last room there were just shots of real people. Some of the current dispossessed of the USA. A memorable show.
The only disappointment was that they had made the wrong choice in terms of the show poster. It's always good to finish a cultural expedition with some shopping.

How to tie your hijab this season

I have long thought that organised religion and fashion were deadly enemies, and I thought this despite the fact that in my childhood, Autumn and Spring were the times when you hit the shops so you could join the fashion parade in the ladies' gallery of our synagogue for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover. While the men below prayed, the women cast a critical eye over each other's outfits. Evidently, God was a keen fashionista if he judged whse name was to be written down in the book of life and whose in the book of death by whether we had a Chanel bag with a chain handle.

It has slowly been sinking in that the Muslim woman who ties a headscarf across her hair might not been the downtrodden slave of misogynist fundamentalism that the panicky first believed. The scarf, or hijab, is now a hot fashion accessory amongst young Muslim women. How have I come about such a realisation? Looking at salesgirls in London. At the stunning women whose carefully put together outfit checks this season plus an artfully tied hijab on top:

Jana Kossaibati, whose blog, Hijab Style, claims to be the UK's first style guide for Muslim women, says women are getting more experimental. "Muslim girls are very conscious of the way they dress. When you wear a headscarf you stand out as a Muslim, so what kind of message are you also sending out if you look drab or messy?" Kossaibati started her site because there wasn't another like it in the UK, "but since it began 10 months ago a lot of others have appeared," she says.

Go and check out that site, and also Hijabfashionista and The Hijab blog, where
classic "Spanish", "simple braid" and layered styles are studied and copied by women who want to make sure their scarves turn heads. Other sites advise on the best scarves to wear for sport and even under a baseball cap.

Perhaps fashion will defeat fundamentalism. Hope so.