‘Proust is the godfather of fashion’: what writers’ garments display approximately them
he identifies reads like a provocation: Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore. What? Shouldn’t authors, especially “mythical” ones, be exempt from fashion scrutiny? Surely we should look at their words, now not their clothing. If they produced fantastic works of art, who cares how they dressed?
When I sat down the first morning and commenced writing approximately Samuel Beckett, I notion: ‘Oh, my goodness. Am I doing something completely outrageous?’” says the e book’s author, Terry Newman, who teaches style journalism at the University for the Creative Arts, Epsom. As it occurs, she soon discovered that Beckett became a splendid area to start: he carried a Gucci bag and loved Clarks Wallabee shoes.
Newman’s e-book is full of these crossovers among literature and style. There are obvious examples, such as Joan Didion, who appeared in a Céline campaign in 2015, and Dorothy Parker, whose writing profession commenced at Vogue. But some alliances are more surprising. Gertrude Stein, with her monkish hair and opulent brooches, exchanged postcards with couturier Pierre Balmain. Vivienne Westwood becomes stimulated by way of Joe Orton, and pretty tons anybody changed into inspired by Proust. “Oh, Proust!” Newman says wearily. “He is the godfather of style. That 70s disco crowd was all so obsessed with him.” Especially Yves Saint Laurent. This is unlike any Proust grievance I have heard.
Living authors are underrepresented. Zadie Smith is here, as is Donna Tartt. But there’s no Stephen King, together with his curated informal look, and Karl Ove Knausgaard could experience unappreciated with handiest a short entry in the “hair” segment. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is some other omission because she has a clean look based totally on photo clothes. Her 2012 TED communicate We Should All Be Feminists, have become a slogan on a Dior T-blouse.
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No one questions the link between fashion style and inventive fashion for visual artists or actors or musicians, but the concept seems arguably for authors. The writing-in-pyjamas trope is partially accountable. However, this motif is itself deceptive. Writers like to mention that they spend all day in sweatpants, however, it might be wrong to peer this as a dereliction of style. Often, the scruffiness is a way to preempt high expectancies of what you’re approximate to supply, to trick yourself into seeming unhopeful. It can be precise to sense a piece undone. Who in reality thinks they’ll write their best in the event that they visit the web page absolutely clothed?
But writers don’t spend all their time at a table. They cross into the world as authors, and, once they do, there can be continuity of writing style and clothing style. “Strong voice” – that commodity so prized via retailers and editors – is the verbal equivalent of a robust look. It follows that a creator’s fashion may unfold seamlessly from their wardrobes to their books.
“When human beings communicate approximately style, they think about it as frivolous,” Newman says, although it by no means appeared so as to her. She grew up loving garments and books. And in case you love each, you recognize that it’s miles possible to critique an outfit similar to a sentence. The Booker-longlisted novelist Ned Beauman plays with volume in his prose and gets dressed (he likes Rick Owens). Donna Tartt cultivates sharp angles in her bobbed hair, crisp collars, and lots of-cornered sentences.
Sometimes, a style can reinforce a writer picture and assist in promoting books, because it did for Ernest Hemingway, Tom Wolfe, Tartt herself – whose first writer picture showed her critically bobbed in a snowy graveyard – or David Foster Wallace. His sports socks, running shoes, and really quick shorts are the closest things to the mythical author’s tracksuit in Newman’s book, but the mishmash doesn’t look easy. As befits his prose, each object of clothing looks as if a footnote to some different outfit.
As Wallace knew, style is inescapable. You can’t opt out of it, in clothing or in writing. All you can do is to appear now not to care. But, of the path, that would be just another fashion.