Marie Hell, style and substance
Marie Hell. First, I like the name. It speaks to what I like to think of as my “edgy” persona: non-conformist, rebel, question-authority me. Besides, Hell! It sounds cool, lol. Then, I find out that it’s the Germanic hell, meaning light. Ok, still cool.
Next, I find out that most of the Marie Hell collection is made of Jersey—and now I’m a bit afraid. You see, I’m a big proponent of natural fibers. I’m big on cotton, linen, and wool. I know, they tell me that a fabric is made from bamboo, or wood pulp—but the manufacturing process and the chemicals they use in those processes don’t make me comfortable, and usually, neither do the clothes.
Italian story, part II: La Bella Figura
To see the first part of this story, go here.
I woke up early, and super-excited to be in Rome. I took a good, long bath in an old, deep tub in the hotel’s communal bathroom. There was no shower, just a tub with one of those European hoses that at times can be quite irritating, but wasn’t this particular morning. I was tired and just sitting in the tub; holding the hose over my my dirty, travel worn feet seemed like all I had energy for. It felt like luxury. I had a room with a view: the bathroom had a small window from which I could look out on the empty Roman streets, while sitting in the tub!
All I did back then to get ready for the day was dry myself off, comb my hair, dress, and go. I set out in a saffron-colored gauze dress. It wrapped in a complicated way: you know, around the waist, up over one shoulder to the waist again, etc. The skirt was full and flowy. It was summer. It was hot. I was tan and I looked good. Because it was August, and most Romans had left the city for their vacations, there was hardly anyone around. As I left the hotel and hit the street, Rome hit me.
stepping out of the style comfort zone: three benefits
I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone lately, my style comfort zone. During this experiment I’ve learned there are at least three results of doing this.
Logically perhaps, the first is seeing yourself and the world in a different light. Clothes are an interface between ourselves and the world. It stands to reason then, that if we change that interface, the relationship changes. We’ve all experienced that feeling when we are really well dressed, comfortable, and happy in our skin. Even though it might be raining, our interface has changed perception; our perception and the world’s perception of us and the day becomes special.
French style icon Jane Birkin’s basket
I’ve become a Francophile. It was inevitable, I think; it wasn’t really a choice. There seems to be a tipping point, after you’ve traveled a certain number of miles around the world and landed in that one cafe, to sit at that one table with that view. It happens after you’ve eaten a certain number of perfect baguettes with perfect French butter; or once you’ve seen a certain kind of woman walking down the street, her hair perfectly mussed up in that way. Conversion happens in the details, in precise but universal feelings: the kinds of feelings that the French, and indeed France herself, are so good at evoking.
The French have more style “icons” than any other culture or people, and what those icons seem to do better than anybody is to take one thing, one detail, and make it their own. In their hands, that one thing becomes imbued with charm, and no matter how many times we see it, the feeling stays. That’s what a style icon does.
Such is the case with Jane Birkin. She and her basket…
More about Ms. Birkin tomorrow…