“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way”
– John Keating, Dead Poets Society
Robin William’s character, John Keating, in Dead Poet’s Society, shares the aforementioned mote of wisdom which is as applicable to the nebulous and grave entity that is life as it is to the more frivolous subset of living that is dressing oneself: nothing is ever only what it is. Schiaparelli taught as that a hat can be a shoe –or that a shoe can be a hat, depending on your vantage point– just as Phillip Treacy reminded us that handwear can be headwear. Without getting into the messy business of Heidegger, suffice it to say a skirt can be a scarf, a scarf can be a top, a top can be a dress and a dress can be skirt. All of sudden, filtered through this Heideggeran hue of enlightenment, your closet multiplies exponentially and permutations and combinations beyond my ability to calculate unfurl as much for one’s sartorial corpus and they do for the concepts being and purpose in life.
When I attended an intimate brunch in honour of the stunning indy film, Belle, on Sunday at Atlanta’s freshly minted Civil and Human Right’s Museum, many of the guests asked me what I do, or who I am and I found myself unable to give a direct answer that did not feel reductionist or untrue; I am still working on the answer to that question. Yet, when the inspiring and beautiful director of the film, Amma Asante, asked me if my skirt was indeed a skirt– I was soon to find out that she owns that very same piece– I said, sans hesitation, “today it is, but it is also a dress”. We both laughed and went on to talk about our love for Maje and for Alaia of whose work the skirt/dress reminds us both.
In watercolour paitings, I find a deep sense of the multiplicity of things and possibilities. Perhaps this is why Mats Gustafson is my favourite (fashion) illustrator, but that’s a tangent I need not indulge. Surely, wearing a dress as a skirt by throwing a watercolour-effect top over it is no groundbreaking work of genius. Still, the casusal deed, my encounters that day and the film and story of Belle itself, reminded me to keep my heart open to infinite possibilities as I navigate this finite existence and my limited closet.
What I Wore: Maje Dress/Skirt, Topshop top, Christian Louboutin Rolando pumps, Celine Audrey sunglasses, my old faithful beat-up London Fog umbrella.
A great big thank you to my mentor and friend, Gail O’Neill, for the photos. She’s as natural behind the camera as she is in front of it. And if you think her modelling is something, wait till you check out her brilliant blog http://www.thegailyplanet.