thoughts on a pile of accessories

On July 25, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

These accessories from Monday’s post look so good without me.

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It struck me that this is how I usually see my accessories and clothes (and pretty much everything I own): isolated, out of the context of an ensemble, waiting to be used rather than in use.

The thoughts then meandered like so:

Even or especially when in use, I often can’t see things I’m wearing. Necklaces and earrings, invisible, only noted in the mirror periodically. And clothes…I don’t actually see what I’m wearing once I’m past the initial putting-on. I feel them, I know them, but I don’t really see them (except, in my case, later sometimes, in photos). Rings and watches, bracelets, maybe…but I’m not typically looking at them, or paying attention to them. They, along with everything else, are temporarily assimilated into the body, and I forget about them until they get in my way, somehow, or until someone else comments on them.

Masses* of objects waiting for a purpose, to be put to use. Even in an Iris Apfel mood (here’s a great conversation with her), I can only wear so many things at once. This ties into my interest in displaying the dormant objects. I want to wear them, sure, I want to be the kind of person who would and does wear them, but also I want to see them. And in a way I can only see them when I’m not wearing them. And in a way, the pleasure of wearing them is due in no small part to the appreciation developed over extended not-wearing of them, during which they became familiar in a manner that is entirely distinct from the familiarity established in the wearing (which has its own potentially powerful appeal).

*Of course I have too many objects, despite always culling, always curating.

Thinking about dressing (clothes or accessories, makeup, etc) as an act of decoration, whether careful or careless. Thinking about a closet as a jumble of decor options, as a store might have a box of candles, ribbon, flowers, standing by. Thinking how odd for our culture to elevate (increasingly, it seems) that box alone, without the store or the window display or any application whatsoever. It’s almost preferable, the objects in the absence of any application, in a pure state of being. A shoe without a foot.

[Amassing metaphors is a pleasant activity. Let me know if you have any good ones.]

I get it, though. I often like objects for themselves alone, and don’t even intend to wear them much at the time of purchase. How could I, when there are so many others rotating in, competing for air time. But I rationalize: the wearing is to be stretched out over some decades (’tis a sound bargain!). This is an extremely careful and discerning kind of consumerism, but still a flagrant one. There is something a little monstrous about it.

all the gold things can stay

On December 27, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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One of my favorite side-effects of the resurgence of vintage and retro aesthetics is the old school packaging popping up here and there. If lipstick is good, lipstick in a weighty gold tube is better.

A great example is this Albeit lipstick I mentioned briefly before (wearing here). Estée Lauder’s Mad Men collection has the same vintage look, as does Charlotte Tilbury’s new line. What can I say? I like the color gold. I agree that one can have too much of it and that it is sometimes tacky beyond redemption…but there it is. I want it. And it’s festive in the bargain.

A great formula is key, of course, but packaging is part of the experience. Even if the act of using the product is private, as I think is more often the case for our generation (fading is the image of the woman pulling out a compact to touch up in public), still each element adds its weight to the whole, marking the difference between the perfunctory and the ceremonial. Naturally it feels special to use objects we find beautiful, and their beauty helps us to be mindful of our task. More appreciative, maybe. If we have chosen truly to our taste. It is the case for me, when I choose truly to my taste.

Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder and YSL have always understood this. Michael Kors had the right idea from the start with his new collection (we agree about the supremacy of gold, Michael and I). Props to biodynamic brand Dr. Hauschka for their satisfyingly luxe packaging, and it’s not as metallic but I quite like Clarins’ packaging, too.  Once in a while Revlon releases one of their retro pigments in vintage packaging and I keep waiting to run into one. Certain designer brands, too, do limited edition packaging once in a while that I think really lovely (think Givenchy, think Armani). Tom Ford, though he doesn’t go full-on with the gold, has that Midas air about him, everything he has a hand in glinting in the light.

I find value in that sensation of using something special. Often I wouldn’t think of these objects as especially important to me or tangled in sentiment (if so it is a sentiment that begins and ends in their aesthetic appeal), rather as influential when directly in use. I think I take it to something of an extreme, and want every object in my little empire of possessions to feel special, purposeful, chosen. Really a lot of them do, though. A lot of them are. It is perhaps not too unrealistic a desire.