"I'm wearing a dress of real silk, but it's threadbare, almost transparent. It used to belong to my mother...It's a sleeveless dress with a very low neck. It's the sepia color real silk takes on with wear. It's a dress I remember. I think it suits me. I'm wearing a leather belt with it, perhaps a belt belonging to one of my brothers...This particular day I must be wearing the famous pair of gold lamé high heels. I can't see any others I could have been wearing, so I'm wearing them...Going to school in evening shoes decorated with diamanté flowers... These high heels are the first in my life, they're beautiful, they've eclipsed all the shoes that went before... It's not the shoes, though, that make the girl look so strangely dressed. No, it's the fact that she's wearing a man's flat-brimmed hat, a brown fedora with a broad black ribbon...No woman, no girl wore a man's fedora in that colony then...What must have happened is: I try it on for fun, look at myself in the shop-keeper's glass, and see that there, beneath the man's hat, the thin awkward shape, the inadequacy of childhood has turned into something else. Has ceased to be a harsh, inescapable imposition of nature. Has become on the contrary, a provoking choice of nature, a choice of the mind... Suddenly I see myself as another, as another would be seen, outside myself, available to all, available to all eyes, in circulation for cities, journeys..."
Out of the blue on television I caught the film version of one of my favorite books, The Lover by Marguerite Duras. I love the part in the book where she describes in beautiful precise detail the outfit she's wearing from her memory. It's 1929 and something that will change her life is about to happen. I can pretty much always recall what I was wearing during different times in my life, which is why I can't bear to get rid of certain pieces of clothing no matter how dated they are.
Anyway, the movie version of the book was actually quite good. For one thing, Jeanne Moreau is the narrative voice so that in itself is pretty awesome. She speaks over a colorful backdrop of late 1920's Vietnam which brings your mind to a whole other level. Usually, the 1920's usually conjures automatic images of that time period in America, Paris or Berlin. Imagining this cusp of new modern life and fashion in a different setting, such as a third world country, is a whole other perspective.
Jane March plays the young girl and she carries herself convincingly in the book's iconic outfit. She wears this airy loose silk dress, nonchalantly belted at the waist with diamond studded shoes.
If you have not yet read this book, I highly recommend it along with anything else Marguerite Duras has written. The most amazing prose you will ever read. One of my to-do's is to get a hold of some of the movies she has directed, I'll be sure to have a post on that once I find them.