Thursday, October 10, 2013

Suit Up

Memories can fly in out of nowhere. A few weeks ago I decided to enjoy the last breaths of summer by walking from the South End to the waterfront. The plan was to sit on the stairs outside of The Institute of Contemporary Art and watch the boats and be absolutely silent for as long as I liked. It was a good plan, although not a new one. And as so often happens when I walk this city, I found myself turning onto little streets that opened into corners long forgotten. On that day as I strolled through Chinatown, a memory tumbled out of a rarely visited part of my mind and I started smiling at no one in particular.

Any of my close friends can attest to my love of the birthday non-celebration, but that craving for intimate parties didn’t start with my tumble into the late 20s. The roots stretch much further back. At age six, I decided that I wanted to have a fancy dinner at one of the restaurants in Chinatown for my birthday. No children. Just my mother and some family friends. And for that dinner I would wear the most fabulous of outfits. A marker of the warm, summer temperatures that often followed my early May birthday. A seersucker suit.

Little Samantha was just as quiet as, but far sassier than, Adult Samantha.

I don’t know how we came into the seersucker suit. I do know that I was a peculiar child with peculiar tastes and after six years my mother had become adept at finding ways of dealing with me and all of my weirdness. The evening exists in my mind only in fragments. The edible flowers that adorned my plate. The strange looking fish in the restaurant’s aquarium. The start of my years-long struggle with chopsticks. And the suit.

I only recall wearing it the one time, although it probably ventured outside once or twice more before needing to be retired. Unlike the patterned tights that resembled a rainforest’s canopy or any number of pretty, little girl coats, the life of the suit was heartbreakingly short. I was growing like a weed, on my way to becoming almost as long-limbed as my mother, and suits do not take kindly to such spurts.

When I decided that I hated suits on women, partly because the ones that I saw people walking around in were boring woolen rectangles and partly because in my early and mid 20s I chafed at the idea of a suit-wearing life, I should have known that I would come back around on them. Because somewhere in the back of my mind was an image of what a suit could be. And just like any other piece of clothing, it could be whatever I wanted.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Favorite of the Day: Kenzo

One element is often missing from the fashion month proceedings. "Innovation" and "inspiration" and various other buzzwords float here and there meaning little or nothing at all. Everyone is guilty of playing that game, even me. But there's rarely ever any talk of fun. Clothes can be serious and somber and minimal and clinical but they can also be something much more than that, something more playful.

Kenzo has been fooling around with that concept not only on the runway but also in their advertisements. That play continued in their Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

But just because the seriousness was dialed down doesn't make the clothes any less artful than those of the fashion month collections that preceded them or those that are still to come.

Photos via