Lucy Collins is a contributor to the excellent Worn Through blog, and she's written a great post on fashion in France. The French way of dressing -- so envied and imitated but never fully duplicated -- is a model for Slow Fashion; Lucy writes: "But despite the longstanding relationship between France and fashion, in modern times Parisians seem surprisingly anti-trendy. That is, if we understand trendy-ness to be part of an inclination to wear anything and everything 'cool,' with a total disregard for what looks good." She's right to note, though, that there's a dimension to the way that French women dress that is so integrated into and informed by French culture that the rest of us can only be students of it:
One of those intangibles that we talk about with French women is elegance. There's a new book I'm eyeing called In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing. I should probably read it along with Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, as somehow I think these go hand in hand. I think artists are often in search of elegance; it's one of those things we recognize, or respond to, even if we can't define it.
More odds and ends: I'm mentioned in Rob Walker's Consumed column in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, with thoughts about Lululemon, a clothing company with a "yoga-inspired" marketing platform. Suffice it to say I'm not a fan of Lululemon, not even a little bit. I am a fan of Rob's column, though, as well as his Murketing blog and his fascinating Signficant Objects project.
The truth is that I don't own yoga, or craft, or organic foods, or any of the things that I bemoan the commercialization of. Is it even fair for me to criticize the way that these things change and become marketing propositions? Is it just sour grapes, because I wasn't able to or never chose to cash in on these things that once made me unique? I don't think I begrudge success, but I do respond intensely to the way things I care about become "lite" to suit our (crass, non-elegant) culture.
I think it's a common ambivalence; a friend of mine, who has carried his cloth bag to the grocery store for decades, was saying that he should be thrilled now that his natural foods store is filled with people carrying their own bags; instead he finds himself irritated, just as I'm irritated by all the trendy people in their expensive yoga outfits. The feeling persists, though we know that it's good, all things considered, that people carry cloth bags and do yoga. Maybe the irritation comes from a fear of looking as if we ourselves are lemmings who just jumped on a bandwagon; we want our discovery and foresight, our decades of dedication to once-unpopular ideas, to show.