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

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

In which Alber Elbaz and I think the same thoughts

From Lisa Armstrong in the Times, today

Elbaz isn't sure: “But they say in a recession that the one thing that doesn't go down is red lipstick.” Not that baldly commercial imperatives sway him. He used red because there have been many mornings, since the sunny, colourful collection that he designed more than a year ago (the one in all the magazines now, coveted by every woman conversant with modern clothes), when he woke up, switched on the news about Gaza or another failing bank and thought, Who Needs Fashion? “But, you know, it's almost like that moment when someone is told they have a disease. Either you say, OK, let me die now, or you say, I'm going to buy a beautiful dress, I'm going to go forward and I'm going to go back to lipstick. And do you know what? A good shoe or a good dress does something to you. It's not just about fashion victims. It really does do something for all women.”

Eccentric as this might seem to those not embalmed in fashion fluid, he is on to something. In The Thoughtful Dresser, Linda Grant's new book about clothes, she recounts the almost life-saving effects on female inmates of a consignment of red lipstick mysteriously delivered the to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp shortly after the British Red Cross arrived in 1945.


california dreamer said...

Amen. While I eschew shopaholism, I recently became aware of a siren within me singing of handbags and shoes. My recent purchase of two handbags in Paris and two pair of shoes locally, all reasonably priced, has bucked me up like nothing else. Particularly since the least expensive bag (a) has become my go-to bag, and (b) is coveted mightily by my youngest daughter.

Deja Pseu said...

It's true. There's a certain power to the "screw it, I'm going to look my best," attitude that helps us face adversity.

Rubiatonta said...

I've always agreed with the idea, "never underestimate the healing powers of a new lippy." As tight as my budget has gotten, I won't deny myself that little treat now and again!

lillyanne said...

Linda, this might be a good moment to tell you how much I like ‘The Thoughtful Dresser’, book version, which I’ve just finished. I’ve followed your blog for months and enjoyed that too, but the book – the book’s quite wonderful and I was completely enchanted by it. And very moved, and cast back in memory to my own adolescence (in New Zealand & about five years before your own) watching my own mother, and my grandmother, wear their clothes, and trying to find my own way through it all. (My grandmother had a ‘costume’ and a hat with cherries on it; my mother had an outrageously elegant grey suit and a fox fur. I’d forgotten both outfits until I read the book.)

I’m very engaged and curious about what you’ve done, and the way in which you’ve brought such strength and intelligence to the whole thing. I admire what you’ve done enormously, as much as I enjoyed it, and I thank you for it.

dana said...

A friend reports that her three year old nephew, on walking through a store with his dad, spotted a woman. He turned to his dad and said, "I wike the wadies in the wipstick."

So it starts early, and seems to work.

desertwind said...

He's a lovely fella, isn't he?

california dreamer said...

These are some kind of crazy links someone is posting to your comments, Linda. And not in a good way.

Shelley said...

I love that phrase, "embalmed in fashion fluid..." It's been a while since I read Agnes Keith's Three Came Home but I seem to remember there was almost as much trading for lipstick in the war camp as there was for eggs. Obviously there is something important about being able to improve one's looks and lifting morale.

Sister Wolf said...

I wore my best red lipstick (discontinued Chanel) to have breast surgery. A nurse gave me a nice compliment as I lost consciousness.

Lipstick is key.

chicknamedhermia said...

I never felt that way about lipstick, but I always feel great if I have well-applied eyeliner!

Have you seen the new Elbaz Lanvin T-Shirt's gorgeous ...

lagatta à montréal said...

Linda, I was thinking of this post while reading the story of the rescue of 98-year-old Maria d'Antuono, who kept busy crocheting until she was rescured from her earthquake-levelled home in Abruzzo.

"She was given a packet of biscuits, but had a request that left onlookers even more astonished than before - and gave an entire new dimension to the concept of bella figura (which roughly translates as keeping up appearances). Before leaving for hospital, she said, she wanted a comb".

julia said...

yes, lipstick will do it!
but then almost everything will do it, no? everything and anything that makes us look just a tad better than a moment before.when we look better-even when we think we look better, we feel better-automatically.
it s a gene thing. no one has taught us, it s just there. new lipstick, new eye-liner, mascara. ear-rings, freshly washed and /or tinted hair, new shoes or refurnished shoes (i ve got at least 4 pairs), a new dress, or a dress that didnt fit anf now fits again, etc...and we stand up straighter, we have a spark in our eye, we hold our head up, we are a newer, better us.
it doesn t take much-if a lipstick can do-and how expensive is a get my drift...

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