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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
Style Icon: Marguerite Duras
...Or any older writer dame, really. I really don't think older writer dames get enough credit on the style front, so I'm righting that wrong right now. I've shouted out Joan Didion before, but I give Marguerite Duras credit for being the first writer dame to inspire me on a fashion front. Many years ago I fell in love with her novel The Lover and its poetic, intense atmosphere of suppressed violence and eroticism. (Okay, not so suppressed on that last one.) I went on a bit of a Duras kick and read tons of her other works ranging from major pieces like Moderato Cantabile to ephemera like Practicalities. (She even did the screenplay for the amazing film Hiroshima Mon Amour, one of my favorite films ever -- the movie is amazing, and the script is a work of art in itself.) Practicalities is a mishmash of little essays and bits of writing on everything from housekeeping to being an alcoholic to falling in love with a younger man. I read it ages ago, but one thing I remember is what she had to say on her style and fashion in general, about having a uniform: "A uniform is an attempt to reconcile form and content, to match what you think you look like with what you'd like to look like, what you think you are with what you want to suggest. You find this match without really looking for it." (You can read the whole essay here, actually. Yay, Google Search!)
Since then, ironically enough, I've always been looking for a uniform, whether or not I've been aware of it. And in a way, it's true -- you find it without really looking for it, because suddenly all I wear is skinny or straight-legged dark rinse jeans and boy's oxford shirts and ballet shoes over and over again, and it sort of works in nearly everything I do and everywhere I go. A lot of people think uniforms are boring, but I don't -- it's the most true thing about a person, fashion-speaking of course, a successful distillation of a person's past, present and future into a sartorial gesture. I think the moment you find your uniform comes at that exquisite moment when you know and have accepted yourself, you know and have accepted where you are going and are getting on with the big things in life. If we're talking about self-actualization, there's nothing more awesome than that.
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