Thinking about the "other" meaning of the title of this website ("Judgment of Paris"), I think we all have to concede that currently, as a leader of world fashion, Paris (France) deserves to be judged very well.
I never thought I would be saying this, and I only hope that it lasts, but the simple truth is that fashion has never been this beautiful in my lifetime -- nor, would I wager, in the lifetime of anyone living today.
There was a wonderful article in today's New York Times
about the gorgeous styles that were on display at the Paris shows last week. Titled "Ruffles and Flourishes for a Girlie Girl," the writer, Guy Treblay, couldn't quite prevent himself from expressing some cynicism, but he was obviously compelled to acknowledge the beauty of the apparel -- almost despite himself.
Here are some of the best passages:
"The shows are over, and the consensus among those who concern themselves with these things is that Paris presented a fairly unified vision of fashion in the near term. The woman conjured by the majority of designers working in this city, which still has by far the strongest field of designers, is a person unafraid of the kind of frilly femininity that not so long ago was considered anathema.
The girlie girl, in short, is back. And from the look of things, she is ready to make her first communion.
So many bows and ruffles and chiffons and voiles and embroideries were on display here over the last week that one dismayed buyer for a New York department store threw up her hands and said, "What if you're not a virgin?" "
I smiled when I read that last quip, but it's wonderful to hear a fashion writer acknowledging just how significant this change in mainstream fashion really is, how profound a departure it is from the ugly modernism of the recent past.
This paragraph also reminded me of the article that was recently posted on this forum, about how fashion is expressing is a "soft, soothing message":
"The dress is back, say the fashion seers, their voices like those of Circe's maidens. "There's so much white and so much tan and soft fabrics and subtle details that you have to study, that you keep coming back to the same thing, the dress," Julie Gilhart, the fashion director of Barneys New York, said outside the Chloé show at the Jardin des Tuileries. "It's kind of irresistible." "
And the writer coined a term for this movement that I like as much, or even more, than "the New Femininity." He called it "feminine romanticism":
"A knack for getting hold of a hankering many women apparently nurture for the powder-puff prettiness that one could term "feminine romanticism" is probably what rescued Alber Elbaz of Lanvin from the scrapheap of also-rans."
The only thing that breaks my heart when looking at these designs, of course, is thinking how much better they would look on plus-size models. We have all been saying this here for years, but now that Crystal did her runway turn, it's a proven fact!
Just look at these achingly beautiful, dreamlike dresses from Valentino:
Anything this lovely and unmodern is clearly meant for a figure that expresses comparably timeless beauty.
I only hope the fashion industry takes its lead from Gaultier, and finally begins matching the "feminine romanticism" of its designs to models whose beauty is similarly romantic. Just imagine the industry's young ingenues such as Kelsey Olson and Christina Schmidt, or timeless enchantresses such as Barbara Brickner and Charlotte Coyle, in the "bows and ruffles and chiffons and voiles and embroideries" that the New York Times article mentioned.
Like Crystal's appearance on the runway, it would be a fairy-tale made real.