Browsing through my latest copy of Town And Country, I learned some facts that surprised me. Normally, I don’t expect to be enlightened by the magazine. Mostly, I hope to be amused.
What I discovered wasn’t earth-shaking. I’d heard about power lunches before, but I didn’t know it meant being seated with people important enough to order off the menu. (“How to Eat Lunch in This Town Again,” David Netto, Town&Country, May 2021, pg. 32.)
Nor was I aware that pairing diamonds with metal was taboo until 1993 when Chopard, a Swiss Jewelry company, broke the rule, creating a stainless steel sports watch embellished with sparklers. (“The Well-Being Meter,” by Jill Newman, Town&Counry, May 2021, pg. 40.)
One article I stumbled across was about IRL and high fashion. I had to google the initials. I’m glad I did. Otherwise, I’d never have linked style with living in real life (IRL)
How could I when a day earlier, I’d observed a teenager painfully teetering along the sidewalk shod in spindly six-inch heels? They gave a slant of her gait reminiscent of the forward slash on a computer keyboard. What protected her from gravity’s pull was a pair of platform soles of equal height. Hobbled as she was, had this young slave to couture been a wedding guest, she would never have escaped the church in time if the bride’s jilted lover had joined the ceremony with an AK-47. To be blunt, those shoes were anathema to IRL.
Despite my vivid imagination, Bridget Foley, in her article “It’s Actually Quite Simple,” insists couture is about clothes for women who lead bold, dynamic lives which demand “numerous wardrobe requirements.” (Town&Country, May 2021, pg. 65.) Even so, a few lines later, she admits, these gals she refers to are the ones we most fantasize about–celebrities or members of the superrich–not IRL people I’m likely to bump into at the supermarket.
If pressed, Foley might agree. Couture, she admits, isn‘t focused on the women who wear these garments. Instead, it is a tribute to fashion as an art form with its dedication to fine workmanship. “There’s so much love in each silhouette,” says Virginie Viard, Chanel’s creative director. (Ibid, pg. 65.)
Despite my skepticism about IRL and couture, I get it Some of these gowns are destined to live in museums or private collections. That a dress gets worn rather than framed doesn’t diminish it as a work of art.
As for patrons willing to pay a ransom for gowns designed to flatter the artist more than the women…well? As Foley muses, “believers believe.” (Ibid, pg. 65.) The remark isn’t as foolish as it seems. Belief, as we know, shapes our view of reality.
Foley’s article forced me to ask, “Who am I to scoff at IRL and fashion?” I‘ve never had the privilege of glimpsing a Chanel hem. Closing the pages of Town and Country, I confronted my ignorance and felt chastened.
Special Note. This month on my YouTube program, Just Read It Anne Hillerman, author of the Navajo Indian mystery series featuring Jim Leaphorn and Jim Chee talks about her new book, Stargazer. Catch it here: https://www.booksbycarolinemiller.com/portfolio/just-read-it-guest-interview-with-writer-anne-hillerman/