Crimes of fashion and how we should avoid them
It has dawned on me lately that I’ll never be a human gazelle gliding down the catwalks of Milan and Paris with a haughty sneer. It’s too late, for one rather important thing. There are other, minor considerations.
Worse, I now see that it will be my fate to become dumpy with age rather than wizened, simian and scrawny, which at least qualifies as elegant. But I have found my vocation.
What I can do is offer a running commentary on the appearance of people in public life, and fashion, with special emphasis on shortcomings. I am honing this skill by advising people on television on their hair, clothing and makeup, so far only by talking to or yelling at the screen.
I’m yelling myself hoarse at Melania Trump, for one thing. The fashion bloggers may have swooned over the sleeveless floral frock she wore to a massive military parade in Paris the other day, but it didn’t wash with me.
The event was staged to remind America of its ties to France, which go back to the French Revolution, possibly earlier, and more recently to American troops finally arriving in France in World War II.
Let me put this simply: a lot of people died. Young men did in their millions, as did Jews, communists, resistance fighters, trade unionists, gays, and anyone else who got in the way. Women were left widows, parents bereft, rubble remained, and we called it victory. War is vile, and even if this was a just war against fascism it was vile too.
But it was serious. Even Donald Trump grasped that because he did his Julius Caesar pose for the cameras.
You must know it by now. Trump’s face goes all solemn and jowly and mockwise, and he holds the pose for whole seconds. He favours one profile, which he’s worked out is his best one. All that’s missing are a toga and laurel wreath, and maybe Nero’s harp for the lols. It cracks me up every time.
Melania can look great. The red suit was a success, the floral frock less so, though it gave her the chance to show upper arms that have not yet become drapery, not bad at 47. But a full skirted floral frock is a girly garden-party thing, surely, not what you wear to watch soldiers on parade.
If the Trumps were less arrogant, less fearful of outsiders, Melania would have advisers on protocol and dress. She is no longer a person, I tell her, she is a president’s wife, and even if he’s a buffoon she should rise above him, which she kind of does with below-the-knee skirts. Restraint is good. Leaving him would be better. I have warned him about this.
Other commentators have been mean about Brigitte Macron wearing tailored things, but they should back off. She’s fighting the good fight for older women continuing to be relevant. As for her short skirts, she knows her legs are her best visual asset, so why not? I’ll skip her straw hair, poor thing.
When Trump congratulated her on
her physique – hilariously inappropriate – I was relieved that she wasn’t overweight, in which case he’d have observed that she was fat. How Melania must cringe.
She makes a point of standing as far as she decently can away from him these days, as if she has to do as she’s told or she’ll never see her son again. Think Isabella Rossellini in that loathsome film Blue Velvet.
Closer to home I give regular advice to Alison Mau about ugly shoes. Why such an attractive woman would wear black leather hooves passes all understanding.
I’m also raising my voice to the female TV reporter whose face is so caked in pale foundation that she seems to be delivering her items, Morticia Adamslike, from the edge of the grave.
I do a furious commentary on fashion as shown by local fashion editors. There is a kind of clothing that is always with us, dull and uninspired and therefore ‘‘classic’’, which ends up either in charity store bins or – as of now – fashion reporting.
The dreary garments seem to come direct from an 80-year-old’s wardrobe, ‘‘classics’’ she has looked after lovingly since men first walked on the moon, preserved in mothballs. The ideal accessory is a shopping trundler.
Yet there are flashes of brilliance at the end of the sartorial tunnel. An 82-year-old Wellington woman with dementia went missing this week, and was found, wearing a purple and multicoloured polka dot onesie with possibly, we’re told, a black and red beanie. Bare feet completed the ensemble.
For once I cheered.