I’m in front of the writer Colette’s grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, 2001. I’m wearing my all purpose basic black traveling clothes—black long sleeved t-shirt, black pants, black jacket, black wearable bag, black raincoat, and I‘m carrying my husband’s navy blue backpack. Since it’s Paris, I’m wearing the standard Parisian scarf-around-the neck, and I’ve got on black sneakers because my knees no longer permit me to roam around Paris in 4 inch spike slingbacks as I did in 1968. (I don’t smoke Gauloise cigarettes any more, either, as I did then.) This seems as good as any place to conclude my fashion journey.
My grandmother and my mother took me to department stores and dress shops, persuaded me to try on dozens of dresses, pants, coats (always in August, always itchy and unpleasant at that time of year),shoes, hats, sweaters, jumpers, vests and skirts. Their comments—“That does nothing for you,” “That‘s slimming,” “That color is bad for you,” “that’s cheaply made,’” “That is so you! “ –have taken up permanent residence in my head.
Fashion should reflect who we are—how we choose to reveal something of ourselves to the world, as well as how we choose to keep other aspects of us mysterious, private. It doesn’t have to be a display of affluence or self-indulgence. Fashion says who we are at a moment in time, who we have been and who we want to become.
Photo © 2011 Tom Viti