A few years ago, in the French movie “Chocolat,” the actress Juliette Binoche achieved a level of beauty I hadn’t seen in a woman in decades, not since my favorite ex-wife took off. A lot of it had to do with the 1950s period dress--meaning, literally, dresses, which were not quite formal, but far removed from the kind of shabby chic or casual sloppiness born, I suppose, of the hippie movement 10 years following the movie’s period and running up until now.
Our new magazine’s fashion columnist, Kathy Surace, made reference the other day to a resurgence of that kind of relaxed and natural elegance in women’s fashion. Larry Davidson of the high-end men’s clothing store, Davidson’s in Roanoke, said pretty much the same about men’s fashion--for young and old men.
More evidence appeared on the Hollins campus recently as I crossed the quad for a meeting: young women in sun dresses, shirt waists, skirts and sweaters. Then, the crowning touch occurred this past weekend at Washington & Lee University where my son and I went to a football game. I photograph college football games for publications in the fall, so we were on the field together, long lens affixed. Evan was peering through the lens into the student section.
“See something interesting?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, smiling. “Some really good looking babes.” I took a turn at the lens. Sun dresses. Well-groomed young women. Shoes with heels. Pearls. I thought I saw white gloves. Maybe not. But, yeah, I said, “Really good looking babes.” And the guys were handsome, as well, in shirt and tie, pressed pants, shoes that weren’t made of rubber. I wish I could show you the photo I took, but you can see it for yourself at a Web site I occasionally write for Handshake20.com. Go take a look. It conjures all kinds cultural values and shows kids being about as pretty as they can be—which is considerable.
Elegance. Ah, thy name is fashion and fashion seems to be back.