La première mode
Supreme hat, Givenchy bag, Zadig and Voltaire coat, Stella McCartney blouse.
‘Mais proche la croisée au nord vacante, un or
Agonise selon peut-être le décor
Des licornes ruant du feu contre une nixe,
Elle, défunte nue en le miroir, encor
Que, dans l’oubli fermé par le cadre, se fixe
De scintillations sintôt le septuor.”
“But near the vacant northern window, gold
Expires, conformed perhaps to the motif
Of unicorn flames rearing at a nymph,
She, in the mirror, nude, defunct, although
Within the framed oblivion at once
Appears, all scintillation, the Septet.”)
“Shutting my eyes to enchanting designs, which tempt me to describe them, I shall be brief and severe, as always. Butterfly bows placed, with a happy lack of symmetry, as a finish to spaced-out flunces and narrow pleats; flower-patterns allowed to branch or to meander; here we have an ordinary, even an easy, form of luxury. But the genius which transforms woven fabrics into butterflies and flowers must be humble beside the pure and simple splendor of the fabrics themselves.”
How could these two pieces of writing, one an absurd and esoteric poem, the other a description of a fashion trend have been created by the same author, Stéphane Mallarmé? Mallarmé was a french philosopher and intellectual, but wrote a fashion magazine on the side under different pseudonyms. A man so renowned for his incomprehensible poems writing about lace, jewels, skirts?
People wonder why fashion is so important. Is it because of the image it exudes? Because people enjoy the idea of being able to construct different identities for themselves based merely on a sweater they’re wearing? Is fashion similar to other forms of art? Is it more like a pastrey chef adding gold leaf as a finishing touch to a Religieuse au Caramel or is it more like the color palet an artist choosing to paint a painting with? Is it to look ‘pretty’?
Fashion is not just a superficial means of looking nice. Mallarmé is the primary example. Why would someone as smart as him devote half his time to writing about clothing? The reason must be because there’s some deeper meaning to fashion…I just haven’t figured it out yet…