Thursday, 3 January 2008

Balzac and the Lanvin Hi Top

"The brute covers himself, the rich man and the fop adorn themselves, the elegant man dresses!"

Swarthy?

Words from one the greatest fiction writers of all time - Honore de Balzac


What are your thoughts on this statement? I'm not too sure if the brute does cover himself, I've seen many a brute seemingly reluctant or unable to cover themselves! I'm not even too sure which bracket I'd put myself in. Of course most of us strive to be elegant but there are occasions where adorning oneself is preferable. Surely the Lanvin Hi tops which everyone covets so much (even the ladies - hands off our shoes I say!) blur the boundaries between adornment and elegance? I'm not too sure that Balzac was aware that Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver would create something that damaged his observation.


Lanvin
In all seriousness though I don't think that the divide between elegance and adornment is that clear. Of course there are numerous examples of each that can be found throughout the archives of the Sartorialist, Facehunter and friends but there are equally examples of combinations of the two.

Apologies for the strange post. I am tired and this might have made me mad. I promise more interesting posts will follow and I won't mention these hi tops again. I am currently working on a number of Bespoke articles after being inspired by the recent Esquire. Off to bed with me. Tomorrow I will supplement this post with examples.

I think that the difference between elegance and adornment is one of depth- adornment for me suggests something specific (a nice brooch perhaps.. something sparkly and expensive, hence the snipe at rich men), whereas elegance is more all-encompassing, something embued in everything the wearer wears, does and is. I think the difference to focus on, however, is between dressing and adorning... once again I think that the word dressing suggests a real care and thoughtfulness behind what one puts on (as opposed, specifically, to covering which is just shoving on whatever can disguise your nudity) while adornments may be nice in themselves, but the rest of the outfit may not be as thought through. I suppose the trick is to dress well, then adorn yourself as you see fit.

I must say, I bloody love that picture. It reminds me of photos of convicts (for some reason they had to show their hand in photos back in the bad old days), while his open shirt reminds me of The Death of Chatterton.

2 comments:

j said...

Well judging from the picture, Balzac falls into the brute category. But surely there are more categories than those four. What's a fiction writer know about it anyway?

Stylesalvage Steve said...

J - Unfortunately there aren't too many flattering images of Balzac on the internet...it seems he wasn't the most attractive of beings but he certainly was talented. I agree that there are limitless categories but it is always easier to simplify as much as possible for the benefits of a good quote.

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