Yesterday while I was embellishing aforementioned lamp shades it occurred to me they looked like the hats Ricky and Fred made for Lucy and Ethel when the girls were whining about buying couture ensembles when they were in Paris. So of course when I brought it upstairs to put on the lamp, I had to make a detour into the living room where we have a huge mirror and prance around with the lampshade on my head, making fish lips and poising. Fortunately, the only witness to this behavior was the dog and he isn’t talking. Yet. And when he does relate this incident in his life he won’t be able to talk because he will be laughing so hard he will have to lay down on the floor and clutch his sides with his front paws and beg everyone present to just give him a minute.
And then to complete the show, I turned it upside down the shade bowed up and out similar to something an 11th Century tradesman’s wife would have worn, her hair tightly bound in a piece of silk to protect against vermin. It also resembled something Karl Lagerfeld used on the runway a few weeks ago. In fact a few of his evening dresses looked like things I invented with my floral bedspread in 1973. I was a little miffed he stole my ideas, too. In fact, one of the dresses was almost the exact same floral print but in a different color. My favorite designer in 1973 was Edith Head, the Hollywood costume designer. She started my love affair with fashion and clothing.
I’m willing to bet your average 11 year old doesn’t know about Edith Head. But I wasn’t your average 11 year old. I was a veracious reader and really had only one friend, my Oldest Friend (OF) and I watched a lot of old movies with my mom. I was also fond of designing 19th century hoop skirts and bustled gowns and shoes, I designed shoes, too. My creations weren’t too bad, a little busy and gaudy but not terrible. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to work in Hollywood and dress the beautiful starlets; nope I wanted to fabric into lovely elegant creations like the ones she made for Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Funny Face and the last time I fast forwarded through it just to see the fashions. The evening dress Grace Kelly wears in Rear Window (its black and white) is so beautiful it brings a lump to my throat and her blue Oscar gown brings tears to my eyes. It wasn’t as if I wanted to be a star! See my name in big letters and bright lights! I didn’t give a hoot about being famous in Hollywood I just wanted to create beautiful clothing from beautiful cloth.
I was reading this month’s issue of Vogue, something I rarely do because I don’t follow the fashion world as slavishly as I did in the 70’s and 80’s and Vogue just makes me feel old. But it held me as a captive audience the other day while Beav was getting his hair cut. Cost Cutters had a Vogue to skim while I waited! Yay! No What-More-Could-Possibly-Be-Said-About-Your-Orgasm-Cosmo or–stab out my eyes and call me done–Glamour! One of the short articles was a nostalgic piece about Marcia DeSanctis* trip to France in 1979 (green with envy at this point) and how she stayed with a beautiful woman and her husband near Nice (Ok, now I hate a perfect stranger). DeSanctis honestly admits she was a bit of a hayseed and thought she looked hot in a few of the ensembles she brought with her. (Oh weren’t we all and didn’t we all…) She felt the most important thing she took from Europe, aside from the perfect white dress and sling backs, was a sense of style could rest in simplicity and elegance. (I had to read Vogue and learn this from Diane VonFurstenburg who was living in France while I was living in suburban Fort Worth) What was odd about finding this article was just that morning I had read an article on the Huffington Post –Lesley M. M. Blume’s Let’s Bring Back article featured Edith Head and I remembered how much fashion meant to me when I was a young woman and how that love affair started as a little girl. Blume includes a quote I had forgotten but DeSanctis whispers it back to us as she recalls her hostess’ simple style which was devoid of fade or trendiness:
“I say sacrifice style any day for becomingness.”
This “becomingness” is now one of my goals for the next fifty years. That being said, while it’s a great idea but let’s not forget the merit of a swath of bed linens, a lampshade atop one’s head and a fantasy to serve as inspiration for a lifelong passion.
And becomingness is going to look a Hell of a lot better on me when I’m 80 than a pair of skinny jeans.
*Marcia DeSanctis is a stunning woman who also happens to be a brilliant political writer and contributor to Huffington Post and the New York Times.