Monday, February 24, 2014

An "ELLE" of a Look: Tevas Redux?

Have you seen the new summer sandal?  It riffs on Tevas, the go-to for hikers that isn't particularly known for its pleasing lines.

When I was climbing through Che's caves in Cuba one summer with 10 other professors, mining helmet on head, I may have distinguished myself by not wearing appropriate footgear, so unappealing to me are they.

But still.

The spread in the recent T magazine featuring these new sandals both repelled me and reminded me of the summer of 1986, when I was living in Montreal, just barely in my twenties. I'd bought an almost-ankle-grazing gray sweatshirt skirt from Daniel Hechter, which I paired with what I considered my Montreal miracle: a tee emblazoned with ELLE, my favourite magazine, from the ELLE boutique on chic Crescent St.

From T Magazine, 2014

These were the days of Rachel Williams, Yasmin LeBon, and Elle McPherson on and in ELLE, and the magazine had a French cool factor that's been lost in the ensuing years. But in 1986, ELLE was it.

To ground the look, I followed my eye and bought what the Montreal denizens wore: a vaguely Japanese thick-strapped slingback on a wedge.  And topped it off with a messy topknot.  I felt I'd arrived.

Also in Montreal that summer I purchased a ridiculous jumpsuit from an eclectic boutique selling clothing from Paris. It reminded me of a Stephen Sprouse design with its bold graffiti and it was a perfect piece to wear around Montreal, where people had a joyful approach to dressing (nothing was too colourful or too eccentric!).

This ad from Celine brought me right back to rue Crescent, circa 1986: 

Celine 2014; compare/contrast with jumpsuit sketch above

Is it, plus the upgraded "Teva," the New Look?

Or even my new look?  Can't get a foothold.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"My Fur Lady": Broadway Joe Namath Meets the Sears Catalogue

What a miracle it was that Joe Namath flubbed the coin toss at last week's Super Bowl. Why?  His fabulous fur jacket got even more air time as the referee called for a second throw (guess the former quarterback was out of practice). But I wasn't complaining, as my eyes were glued to Broadway Joe's outrageous 70s flashback fur.

I realize that Joe had worn similar furs throughout his career.  There are any number of vintage shots showing him stalking the sidelines in furs galore. But I was transported to Prince Edward Island, 1970s era, and my Sears catalogue.

Did anyone else grow up on a small island? In the 1970s, there weren't many shopping choices.  My stylish mother would pack my father and me in our car and we'd hop over to the mainland via a ferry boat--Moncton, NB, was close, Halifax, NS, was further, but had more big-city delights. 

And if we were really ready to throw down the fashion gauntlet, my mum and I would board a plane with my grandmother and high tail it to Montreal, where my two elders would set up shop in the fabled Ogilvy's while I satiated my sweet tooth with a box of the generously cut fudge from the shops in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

But if none of those possibilities were available, there were two catalogues: the Eaton's Book and the Sears Catalogue.  And it was from Sears, while an elementary-school student, that I ordered my first fake-fur jacket--a Joe Namath-quality gray beauty.  On the Island, people dressed for warmth, not style (I bought my first pair of winter "fashion" boots when I moved to the States), but this fur jacket with complementary pleather insets did the trick.

And since then, I've been drawn to an adventurous fur look. Josephine Peary has long been a style icon in her arctic gear;

Nanook of the North rivals Namath fur best-dressed.

So thanks to Joe Namath for reminding me of that fur-jacket memory, long tucked away, but fresh as my then-schoolgirl attitude.