Monday, November 19, 2012

Excuse--There are no *made*-old women in Paris (Seine dispatch 32)

When I was writing about how admirable it is in Parisian culture for agism not to demolish chic, that with no horrible self-destructive surgery involved, fashion and style is robustly open to women up to and including the 70s and beyond, my remarks about 'mom's clothes' was *not* a disrespect of the realities of how difficult it is to 'do' style while raising a toddler or three. That wasn't the idea at all. The idea is that in the default conservative American mode, 'mom's styles'--mom jeans, mom hair, that fact that putting 'mom' before something is synonymous with dull and erotically denuded--is a way that conservative culture devaluates, negatively defines and cordons off women from all sorts of power post childbirth. Suddenly they're confined to outfits that are visibly less than what more 'desirable' specimens are encouraged to show off in on the mainway of heteronormative desire trade. It's the one time the GOP and Darwin sort of mix. Suddenly a totally beautiful woman post-childbirth is not longer 'hot' and must wear shapeless Walmart jeans that exist entirely for the purpose of rubbing in this lousy social contract. But in Paris, in Nice, all around Provence, I saw the French proving it need not be so, to a great extent because the culture had *room* for them. Because a woman nursing a baby who's X pounds heavier didn't matter because there's the cultural space for this display--and clothes a few sizes bigger that did not muffle that beauty in an anti-erotic no fly zone. The same deal for grandmothers. Hell, we saw a woman at dinner in Nice who must have been 75. Ice white hair in a blunt cut bob. A gorgeous (but not, I think, pricey) black dress. Pearl and silver earrings. Smokey eyes. Thin lips with lovely pearlescent mauve lips. Deep space mascara. *Stunning*. Self value in style. Because, you get older, there are fewer and fewer things you *do* have control over. And she was just having dinner at a no big deal restaurant with family. No *wonder* Republicans hate and make light of the French--all this must scare the pants off them.

There are no old women in Paris (Seine dispatch #26)

Another admirable thing about Parisian culture: agism and chic are mostly not disconnected. You see 50, 60, 70 year old women rocking brilliant, unique ideas of suave and it's not about having money. Along with the classic gamine is the classic older-Juliette Binoche type rocking rich brown colored hair, draped dark shawls and thin knit sweaters and hardly any make-up because *hiding* is false and therefore un-chic but intentional artifice cool in very targeted ways: Matte crimson or pearl-tone lipstick, but just a blush. The smokey eye brushed in. A freshet of cheek color. There are, of course, lots of moms. But there's almost nobody consigned to the style and sexiness purgatory that American anti-style enforces on motherhood. There's self respect in other words, which I believe translates to less repression and projections of self-loathing onto other people, which is ultimately manifests as true liberating Helen Mirren liberalism via fashion. Example: the cool as fuck STEREO TOTAL. How old is the singer/drummer? 40? 50? Does anyone care? STEREO TOTAL