Whenever I encounter something as serious as the film I just blogged about I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not an aspiring human rights lawyer, or an aid worker and fashion suddenly seems shallow and pointless.
Linda Grant who wrote ’The Thoughtful Dresser’ and is author of a blog of the same name, has a totally different way of approaching that problem- and if you’re into fashion then it’s probably a sensation you’ve encountered. Her book addresses the idea that fashion is just for people who have nothing better to think about, and argues instead that fashion is actually about something as fundamental as feeling human. If you want to take away someone’s dignity you remove their ability to take pleasure and pride in their appearance. Or as Linda Grant puts it, “it is in the pleasure that we take in clothes that we are at our most elementally human. Wearing clothes, the story of the human race begins.”
I’m not saying fashion is a solution to all the world’s problems but just because you enjoy it, it doesn’t necessarily make you any more responsible for them, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t exert a positive influence.
Linda Grant filters her argument through the story of Catherine Hill who was in Auschwitz as a young girl and went on to become a major Canadian boutique owner who helped launch the careers of the likes of Versace and Armani during the ’70s. Contary to what people might expect, her experiences during WW2 taught her the importance of pleasurable things in life like fashion, and she spent the rest of her life bringing happiness to women by showing them how to dress.
I enjoyed the book partly for its originality and detail, and partly because I felt like I was reading my own half-formed ideas eloquently articulated. And if you’re reading this blog I think you might enjoy it too. Click here to buy it from Amazon.