There was a masquerade ball at the Elysée-Montmartre that evening. It was the ‘Mi-Carême,’ and the crowds were pouring into the brightly lighted passage which leads to the dance ball, like water flowing through the open lock of a canal. The loud call of the orchestra, bursting like a storm of sound, shook the rafters, swelled through the whole neighbourhood and awoke, in the streets and in the depths of the houses, an irresistible desire to jump, to get warm, to have fun, which slumbers within each human animal.
Up Broadway Chandler moved with the vespertine dress parade. For this evening he was an exhibit as well as a gazer. For the next sixty-nine evenings he would be dining in cheviot and worsted at dubious table d’hôtes, at whirlwind lunch counters, on sandwiches and beer in his hall-bedroom. He was willing to do that, for he was a true son of the great city of razzle-dazzle, and to him one evening in the limelight made up for many dark ones.
Why should clogs be despised? Much art has been expended on clogs. They have been made of lovely woods, and delicately inlaid with ivory, and with mother-of-pearl. A clog might be a dream of beauty, and, if not too high or too heavy, most comfortable also. But if there be any who do not like clogs, let them try some adaptation of the trouser of the Turkish lady, which is loose round the limb and tight at the ankle.
Crumpled all together in a basket, waiting to be picked up, the commonly blue greeting sits by the entrance of clean, white spaces. The protective plastic overshoe has the most amusing particularity, especially when wearing heels. It scaffolds the foot into experimental proportions in ways second to none.
Have you any clothes to sell?
The years make a stain you can’t conceal,
Your fabric’s eaten, you discard
That part of your life for which you cared.
You pluck a thread from your cuff; it winces
Straight to your shoulder. Ambition grieves
In trunks and bags; moth-featured, minces
From closets, beating empty sleeves.
Petrovich worked at the cloak two whole weeks, for there was a great deal of quilting: otherwise it would have been finished sooner. He charged twelve rubles for the job, it could not possibly have been done for less. It was all sewed with silk, in small, double seams; and Petrovitch went over each seam afterwards with his own teeth, stamping in various patterns.
I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
“I’ll make you one,” he said, “and balance it
Perfectly on you.” And I could almost feel
The plumb line of the creased tweed hit my heel,
My shoulders like a spar or a riding scale
Under the jacket, my whole shape realigned
In ways that suited me down to the ground.
The Hat still carries the physiognomy of its Head: but the vanity and the stupidity, and goose-speech which was the sign of these two, are gone. The Coat-arm is stretched out, but not to strike; the Breeches, in modest simplicity, depend at ease, and now at last have a graceful flow; the Waistcoat hides no evil passion, no riotous desire; hunger or thirst now dwells not in it.
To escape depression sometimes, I walk through the city, I walk until I am exhausted. I call it ‘La fête des yeaux’. Antiques on Rue des Saints-Pères, art galleries, fashions on the Rue Saint-Honoré. Or I buy Vogue and live the life of Vogue, all luxury and aesthetics which I gave up.
The man’s clothes were new – all of them, cheap and new. His gray cap was so new that the visor was still stiff and the button still on, not shapeless and bulged as it would be when it had served for a while all the various purposes of a cap – carrying sack, towel, handkerchief. His suit was of cheap gray hardcloth and so new that there were creases in the trousers.
It’s February 18 1960. Jean Cocteau has just released his film The Testament Of Orpheus. Mme Francine Weisweiller is in it, just a small part, but important nevertheless. Mme is not an actress but the aging poet’s best friend and she plays ‘la dame qui s’est trompée d’époque’ or, in translation, and I fear less smoothly, the woman who found herself in the wrong decade. Janine Janet, the creator of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s surreal window displays, is the costume designer, but Mme wears a trailing white dress by Balenciaga himself, which she paid for. Instructed by Cocteau to take his inspiration from Claude Monet and Sarah Bernhardt, Balenciaga produces exactly what suits Mme best and into the bargain doesn’t sully his reputation. Cocteau describes Mme’s appearance as a ‘live phantom of flesh and bone’.