A rejoinder of sorts…

12 Feb

… is what I owe to Mr. Manolo, Miss Suggia and Miss Aurum, who were kind enough to provide enlightening comments in this iconicity affair.

Manolo, as it suits for a Prince of the Old and Noble Art of Elegant Clothing, and let me tell you there’s not an ounce of irony here, is not convinced by visually aggressive ways to achieve the iconic. He recommends, I quote him, “to pare back the layers so as to achieve iconicity through the starkly elegant”.

Which is a strong and wise advise. Yet I think starkly elegant would miss the mark by a few inches. Unless of course you add the pencil mustache and a vague scent of rock’n roll. Like this:

Sleek Shark

I thank Agent Lover for an extremely à propos inspiration this morning. Selected for us by Miss Lover, here’s a quote from the above Mr. Waters, which is good, of course, and will provide some food for your hungry thoughts, revered readers:

You don’t need fashion designers when you are young. Have faith in your own bad taste. Buy the cheapest thing in your local thrift shop – the clothes that are freshly out of style with even the hippest people a few years older than you. Get on the fashion nerves of your peers, not your parents – that is the key to fashion leadership. Ill-fitting is always stylish. But be more creative – wear your clothes inside out, backward, upside down. Throw bleach in a load of colored laundry. Follow the exact opposite of the dry cleaning instructions inside the clothes that cost the most in your thrift shop. Don’t wear jewelry – stick Band-Aids on your wrists or make a necklace out of them. Wear Scotch tape on the side of your face like a bad face-lift attempt. Mismatch your shoes. Best yet, do as Mink Stole used to do: go to the thrift store the day after Halloween, when the children’s trick-or-treat costumes are on sale, buy one, and wear it as your uniform of defiance.

Words of wisdom, if you ask me.

Miss Suggia, faithful to her own portrait, is all about noses. She suggests that we should not forget Cleopatra’s Lesson in Iconicity (CLI):

(CLI)    Strong noses are for strong people.

Being rather gifted in that department, I will wholeheartedly applaud. And indeed, Miss Suggia’s examples are convincing. Look for instance at Diana Vreeland:

Who needs pretty girls?

And then the much more confidential, but not a bit less iconic Edith Sitwell:

"I admire what other people wear when it is unusual"

At this point I have a confessions to make. I was crassly ignorant about Sitwell. I lack words to express my gratitude to you, Miss Suggia. Facade is now on my playlist.

Anyway, we get here some great, great cases of iconicity. You took not the pains to read all this for nothing, my little shrimps. The Miss Aurum made her point, which is a case of concluding point if I ever saw one. Rosy de Palma and her remarkable profile:

Sorry Manolo, I guess we're back into eccentricity. With a nose.

Ayyy, I hear you say.

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6 Responses to “A rejoinder of sorts…”

  1. Madame Suggia February 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Trying to calm myself from the giddy thrill of being “mentioned is dispatches”, in such august company and with such a thoughtful and interesting post. I’ll return when my equilibrium has been restored by a baby Asprin, a coke zero over ice and a couple of Marboro Lights-don’t judge, not only is this the ‘breakfast of champions’ but the acknowledged Designer’s Breakfast down the ages.

  2. Miss Eliza Wharton February 12, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    When I’m not going Brit’ on the breakfast, I’ll go with a coffee and when I’m in the mood I’ll smoke Vogues.
    Thin, white, bitchy like hell cigs.

  3. Madame Suggia February 14, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Miss Eliza Wharton says:
    February 12, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    When I’m not going Brit’ on the breakfast, I’ll go with a coffee and when I’m in the mood I’ll smoke Vogues.
    Thin, white, bitchy like hell cigs.

    Touche!

  4. Manolo the Shoeblogger February 14, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    Dear Lady, who has captured the heart of the Manolo, you misconstrue the Manolo if you believe he is enamored of sleek perfection. Like Herrick, the Manolo delights in disorder; it is the stray detail that makes the otherwise perfect palatable.

    However, to contest your notion that iconicity is achievable only by the random layering of fabrics upon fabric, until one has reached the sort of Helena Bonham Carter apotheosis, the Manolo gives you Madame X….

    http://jssgallery.org/paintings/Madame_X.htm

    Sleek, elegant, iconic. And yes, she has the most marvelous nose.

    And now allow the Manolo to step beyond the matter of clothing to take up the psychological, specifically his pet theory that the adoption of outré clothing styles is the defense mechanism for the physically unattractive.

    Thus, iconicity as you have described it, might better be viewed as the attempt of the physically ugly (or imprefect) to change the basis of the contest from beauty to personality.

    Neither Lady Gaga, nor her current fashion muse, Isabella Blow, are (were) beautiful, therefore being very clever peoples they changed the game. Now, they demand you consider them on the basis that has little relation to what we think of as beauty. It is more intellectual and more liberating from the conventional, but also more contrived and unnatural.

    By the way, this topic is related tangentially to something the Manolo has talked about in the past, that most of the fashion designers are themselves unattractive,

    http://shoeblogs.com/2007/11/02/one-blog-you-should-be-reading/

    • Miss Eliza Wharton February 14, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      Oh, Manolo, this is SO gonna be another post…
      Give me a second to collect my thoughts (and maybe reconsider for today this notion of stripes+dots+flowers+leopard I wanted to sport…)

  5. Madame Suggia February 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Ms Wharton, Senor Manolo, all I can say is, ‘bring it”. I and my pathetically button-shaped nose await with baited breath.

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