Sometimes by Thursday I am all current-evented out. Which is to say, I can’t take any more. As you might expect, this is happening more of late. Fortunately, the New York Times is thinking of people like me, and so on Thursday it is possible to open your paper, discard the bad-news sections unread, and turn directly to Thursday Styles, where daffiness abides.
Today’s enormous cover art was the left-hand photo in this series, which I will describe for those too impatient to click: A model strides scowling down the Milan catwalk, wearing a red cardigan sweater of the sort preferred by your grandmother, accompanied by mud-brown wool short-shorts and “strapped-on leather waders.” Yes, boots that rise to mid-thigh, which must be secured with garters and a belt, like stockings. This outfit was by Miuccia Prada, and reporter Cathy Horyn observes:
What Ms. Prada’s remarkable collection offered was something that has been lost to other values — and that is intimacy, real contact with people’s lives.
Yes! Yes! This is precisely what has been missing from the Italian fashion houses of late — real contact with people’s lives, who are clamoring for some leather waders worn with grandma sweaters.
When I tell people this, they never believe me, but Kirk can back me up: I was once a fashion reporter. A terrible one, granted, but for a couple years in the 1980s I attended New York runway shows and filed reports from Halston’s aerie. (It was always called that — an aerie — and fashion writers are nothing if not followers.) Somewhere in my album is a surreptitious snapshot of Liza Minnelli sitting ringside. I found that despite the twice-a-year trips to New York, and the shoulder-rubbing with Liza, I just couldn’t get into it. The clothes were ridiculous (with some exceptions, like Halston), and it struck me that I simply couldn’t sustain the level of bullshit necessary to do it well, or even correctly. I respect the art and the artists, but when it came time to describe the collections as intimate or overdone or whatever, I was just pulling adjectives out of my ass.
Writing about fashion is a lot like writing about wine. You read these descriptions of chardonnay — “lustful, with strong top notes of apple and ligonberry, and a bang-up finish of nearly astringent balsam and juniper” — and it’s the emperor’s new clothes, it really is.
Something else I noticed: Every single fashion designer, and I mean every single one, dressed in Levi’s and black turtlenecks, or Levi’s and white buttondowns, or Levi’s and T-shirts. Mostly Levi’s 501s. And everyone in New York just dressed in black.
But I still like to read the reports from the runway shows. Because you never know when you’re going to need some leather waders.
Elsewhere in Styles was a mournful account of a vanishing life at the Apthorp, a place whose existence I learned of from Nora Ephron, who wrote a New Yorker essay about her time there. The Apthorp is a sprawling apartment building known for its enormous apartments, most of which have been rent-controlled or rent-stabilized. As I recall, Ephron’s apartment was five bedrooms and more square footage than my house, and she paid something like $2,000 a month, which even then was a tiny fraction of its market price. Lately the building has been snarled in financial problems, but pause for a moment to appreciate “a lone outpost of the kind of bohemian family life that renters could once have there.” How bohemian? The family at the center of the story pays $2,850 for “a 3,300-square-foot four-bedroom with black and green marble fireplaces and several crystal chandeliers, is freshly painted in a shade of white that makes it seem even bigger, reflecting the light that pours in through oversize windows.”
Welcome to reality, folks.
Thus heartened with scorn and schadenfreude, I feel ready to start my day. But first, some quick bloggage:
Thanks to Dexter for reminding me that “Breaking Bad,” yet another of the AMC series, starts its second season Sunday. I wrote about the show last year, just as the first season was wrapping up, just in case you want to, you know, make a few notes.
I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, but it’s a great read so far: Michael Lewis reports on the financial crisis in Iceland, where speculation has, basically, collapsed the entire economy.
And with that, I run off to the gymnasium to grapple with the medicine ball and Indian clubs. Have a good day.