I am not too sure how many of you are familiar with Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalottt”. For those of you that are not it is a Victorian poem by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
It is one of my favourite poems and has been the inspiration of many artists, writers and musicians.
It was loosely based on the Arthurian legend of Elaine of Astolat, as recounted in a thirteenth-century Italian novella titled Donna di Scalotta. Tennyson focused on the Lady's "isolation in the tower and her decision to participate in the living world, two subjects not even mentioned in Donna di Scalotta."
The Lady of Shalott lived in an island castle in a river which flowed to Camelot. She had been cursed and was doomed to constantly weave a magic web without looking directly out at the world. Instead she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and people of Camelot which pass by her island. Her world is changed forever when she sees the reflection of Sir Lancelot in her mirror. She stops weaving and looks out her window, toward Camelot, bringing about the curse. Which brings us to my favorite stanza in the poem.
Out flew the web and floated wide- The mirror crack’d from side to side; “The curse is upon me,” cried The Lady of Shalottt.
She then leaves her island tower, finds a boat on which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving. Upon the people who see her, is Lancelot who thinks she is beautiful.
There can be many interpretations to the poem from the dilemma that faces artists, writers, and musicians: to create work about and celebrate the world, or to enjoy the world by simply living in it. I myself love it as a highly romantic and tragic story.
With many interpretations from a written sense it has also been the inspiration for many an artist. One artist JW Waterhouse painted 3 different pictures depicting different episodes in the poem all very different from each other. They are above in the chronological order in which they were painted.
The first done in 1888 is one of my favorite paintings. The third and last painting is in the Art Gallery of Ontario, hanging next to my favorite picture of the Marchesa Casati. A treat for them to be both together.
The verse containing the words "the mirror crack'd from side to side" gave the title to one of Agatha Christie's detective stories and parts of the poem are referred to several times throughout it. The cover by Tom Adams slightly modifies one of the Waterhouse pictures, to create an intriguing bewitching cover.
I always like to re-imagine things I have seen or written so how would it be if our main character were a man? Food for thought!
It is very rare that when I post that I will quote whole text as the bulk of a post. However I came across this little gem the other day from Time Magazine in 1961 giving a recap of the Haute Couture showings in Paris in 1961.
I am not sure who the author was, however a world of glamour and elegance is described at the eve of the beginning of the swinging sixties. Compared to the huge publicity grinding machines and spectacles that couture showings today demand, this seems like a dowager’s tea party. However I think that I would rather have tea with a dowager than attending a brash cocktail party which today’s showings tend to be.
“In the salons of haute couture in Paris last week, buyers and fashion editors from all over the world got their first look at the color and shape of the spring lines—and found themselves looking backward. The new look was the old look of the F. Scott Fitzgerald flapper in the 1920s. Skirts and coats were straight, short, with hemlines flaring. Shoes were square-toed. Bosoms were flat, backs bent and billowing, with designs that required the mannequins not only to slouch but virtually assume the posture of an expectant, concave catcher's mitt. Though Paris fashions have been irresolutely marching backward for several seasons, the big, bold step this year was apparently inspired by a hit movie running in Paris called The Crazy Years, a documentary of the '20s.
The Crazy Years designs produced as wild and improbable a week as the fashion world has known for many a year. At the house of Cardin, which drew the week's first applause for a superlative line, a mannequin was showing a new flat-chested dress to a U.S. buyer. She was suddenly interrupted with a scream from the vendeuse: "But darling, you're wearing it back to front!"
When Madeleine de Rauch's collection failed to follow the flapper trend, the audience began to leave, and waiters dashed in with champagne to stem the bored retreat.
The triumph of the week and cause of the most excitement was the work of Christian Dior's little-known, untested Marc Bohan, 34. The Parisian-born son of a modiste, Bohan broke into haute couture in 1945 as an assistant designer at Patou, left Patou in 1958 to work under Dior's Boy Wonder Chief Designer Yves St. Laurent. When St. Laurent, after an unhappy stint in the French army, "retired" from Dior two months ago because of "ill health," Bohan, one of the few married male couturiers in Paris, took over. Few in Paris expected much from his debut, and St. Laurent fans were openly hostile. Admitted the New York Herald Tribune's Eugenia Sheppard: "I had a poisoned typewriter ribbon ready."
But Bohan's hip-hugging skirts, exotic colors ("Laburnum yellow," "Provence apricot,"), and infinite attention to detail and neatness, generally embracing the flapper trend, stunned the salon and sent reporters into paroxysms of joy. "But Marc Bohan is wonderful," cried a converted Eugenia Sheppard. "Five minutes after the show started, I felt like a cat before a saucer of cream."
At the show's end, the audience was near delirium and jaded U.S. fashion editors at the outer tether of objectivity. "The shouting, clapping, surging mob at the press showing caused chaos in the elegant salon," reported the New York Times excitedly on Page One. "M. Bohan was pushed up against the boiserie, kissed, mauled and congratulated. Chairs were toppled. Champagne glasses were broken. People were knocked down." Breathlessly cabled another U.S. reporter to her office: "Just dashed out of Dior to share with you still-boiling excitement." Wrote the New York Daily News's Monique: "Thundering applause led by a newly blonde Duchess of Windsor rolled through the elegant grey-and-white salons of the House of Dior today, the happy ending to the suspense story of the fashion year."
As an addition to Savoir Faire, I have decided to launch another blog! I have found lately that I have not been able to devote the amount of time daily to Savoir Faire as I wish. Savoir Faire will still continue as will my new blog Mon Peche, which is an going to be visual only with no text and a twist! I a m not sure how running two blogs is going to give me more time. Mon Peche is going to be a visual record of what Savoir Faire is actually thinking.
They say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (especially if you are hunting), however these fabulous creations are more than that! An instant bit of Savoir Faire for a night out on the town in the Holiday Season.
Maison Martin Margiela
Just be careful you don't run into this man and his dog.
This is a non professional and commercial blog and any infringemant on copyright is unintentional. If you own the copyright to any photos and wish to have them removed please contact me via comment and I will remove them.