May 30, 2013

"If I were allowed to choose...

...from the pile of books which will be published one hundred years after my death, do you know which one I would take?  I would simply take a fashion magazine so that I could see how women dress one century after my departure.  And these rags would tell me more about the humanity of the future than all the philosophers, novelists, prophets and scholars."

So said Anatole France, a French novelist who died in 1924 at the age of 80.  The women's clothes he saw in his day ranged from Civil War era hoop skirts to enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves to the liberation from corsets to the high peak of flapper frivolity in his last years.  Imagine that variety over a lifetime, and he a man of letters who paid attention to such things.

And nearly a hundred years have indeed passed since his death.  Imagine the developments since then.  Just a few years after his passing, fashion dictated swimsuits that show all a woman has, and ladies in hard-tailored suits as severe as men's... Would he think us too feminine and yet too masculine?

Then there's the reprise of the Victorian era in the 1950s, the Gibson Girl in the 1970s, the re-created flapper during the 60s, and so on... Are our closets today a split personality of sorts?  Too many acceptable looks run awry of the dictum of fashion?

Look at the mainstream fashion of vintage clothing today... Would he think us unabashedly nostalgic?

I wonder what he would think about our humanity.  What would you guess?

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