Elegant encounters 2017
Thanks for your kind letter, it warms up my day like the morming sun warms one´s back in the cold winter .
And now, about your question: what exactly is elegance, i must admit, I have no answer, but it does make me reflect, like one likes to reflect at the end of one year, and here are those which evoke elegance for me in 2017.
One person: princess Diana
It has been decadess after her tragic death in Paris, France, but we are not seeing less of her, but more, particularly because of the 20th aniversary, more books, more articles, more photos, more interviews, more sensational relevations. A whole industry was born because of her: the diana watcher industry. There are people who love her or hate her, but very few can ignore her, men or women, old and young, with all background of race, education, religion choice, all around the world.
The 18th Duchess of Alba of Spain, could be officially the person with the most royal titles in the world, her titles could as numerous as the properties she owned all over Spain, but I think Princess Diana is perhaps the person with all titles in the world, royal or not: from Princess of Wales to Queen of people´s hearts, From the most photographed woman in the world, the biggest style icon in 21th century.
Because of her special position, very few people had the chance of knowing the real her, other than those very few around her, her family, friends, those families she worked for before her marriage to Prince Charles, and her royal entourage, her bodyguard, her aide, her footman, her maid, etc., who have been chased after by the insatiable media and publishing companies, some of them kept silence, some of them talked: the good, the bad, the flattering and unflattering, the touching and shocking......the claimed truth. Among them, the book Shadows of a Princess by her previous aide and adviser Patrick Jephson read like a dry chronicle of her private life or the private side of her public life, which depicts her almost like a wicked heartless person.
But I think she is elegant, one of those rare people who have an indescrible innate elegance, which may not be known to the owners of it, which may not be manifested at the begining like in the case of Diana, but once found and cultivated, it transforms her into an extraordinary human being, a divine being with inner illumination, so much so that it seems whatever she wears, however she behaves or talks, you tend to think good of her, I suspect that even those who have been saying all those unflattering things about her, have been touched and awed by her prsence.
One film: last train in Lisbon
a I must warn you, it is not a well made film. The director Bille August seemed distracted and perhaps even careless at times, he did not bother about some small details, like how the main character, the swiss professor Raimund Gregorius took the train to lisbon impulsively without taking anything, including his attache, could have an old fashioned phone that can work for days on end. How did someone who lives more divotedly in the world of ancient language and philosophy than in the real world, manage to have a phone charger, which was not even supposed to be with him in the school when he took the trip...I hope I am sounding too frivolous, but things like this annoy me, and the way how the director introduced the hidden main character Amadeu do Prado annoyed me, too, he made Amadeu appear first when Raimund was reading to himself Amadeu´s notebook, the soulful and profund writing of Amadeu and the way how he was locked in a car with a girl seemed quite out of harmany.
The extraordinary performance of Jeremy Irons and Jack Huston saved the film, from the moment when you listen to Raimund reading out Amadeu´s inner thoughts and philosophy, you feel like you were drawn into a secret world, a world that exists parallel to the real world where Raimund clumsyly smashed his eyeglasses, a world where one soul can talk to another soul, one soul can touch another soul, and one soul can change the destination of another soul, without ever seeing the face of another soul.
It was a film of love, of the love of books, love of languages, love of words, love of humanism and human connection. Because of that, the technical defects don´t matter, the dilapedated street scenes of Lisbon do not matter, the spirit of Amadeu, a noble soul, the real hero of the film, shines over everything, elevating all the souls he encountered in his short life.
One tv séries: gran hotel
I love almost everything about Gran Hotel. The story, the charcters, the music, the castings, costumes, the settings.....everything.
It seems incredible how many people love to talk about or like Pedro Almodovar, when they talk about Spain or Spanish culture, like they love to talk about or like Pablo Picasso, but there are so many moving pictures, either in the form of film or tv series, that are so much better than Pedro Almodovar´s films, hidden, unpreciated, undervalued, and Gran Hotel is one of them. Although it is very popular in many countries, some of which even created some thing similar, like Italy and Mexico, but none of them can remotely compare with this Spanish masterpiece, which was made with so much care and craftsmanship that it makes you want to learn Spanish, fall in love with a Spanish, or Spain.
One piece of music: The second waltz by Dimitri Shostakovich
I do not have word to describe it. The only thing I know, is that everytime when I listen to it, I do not want it to end, like I do not want all those beautiful things to end, the first kiss from first love, the last moment of sunset on the last day of a foreign trip...So I am going to end it here.
I wish you an elegant new year,
September 1949, Paris, France. Jacqueline Bouvier was 20 year old, living at 78 Avenue Mozart, studying in Sorbonne French history and language. She had to study in bed most of the times wearing all her warm clothes, because her landlord, widowed Comtesse de Rentry, a survivor of the German concentration camp and a member of French resistance movement , could not afford heating in her house. Only occasionally, would she put on her only fur coat, enjoying a swanky night in the Ritz hotel.
For a girl who came from privileged family in peaceful United States, it was completely new experience, but what she was studying, both the French language and French history, were not new to her. French had been part of her school calendar and Jackie had always been fascinated by French history, more so after she was informed of her family’s possible french heritence, and General de Gaulle was one of her french heroes.
May 1961, Paris, France. Jacqueline Bouvier has become Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of the 35th American president, mother of two children; and she was having a large wardrobe, and her own designer, Oleg Cassini, who was responsible for most of her official outfits; and she was meeting her childhood hero, Charles de Gale, the man who liberated France.
In the one year and half of becoming the youngest First Lady in American history, the fashion conscious Jacqueline Kennedy has learned to compromise between her love of french including French couture and the political correctness of transmitting a patriotic image to the American public, and her designer Oleg Cassini has learned to walk on the line between designing and copying some of her favorite french couturiers like Hubert de givenchy or Coco Chanel, including some of the outfits she brought in her suitcases.
June 1 1961, Versailles, France. For that one night, for the gala dinner with the brave leader of French Republic, in the palace built by the most glorious king in french history, Louis XIV, Jacqueline Kennedy decided to pay her tribute to her beloved France by wearing a dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy, an ivory zimberline silk sleeveless floor length gown with slight A line silhouette, the most flattering silhouette for her slim yet slightly angular body. In order to balance the heavily embroidered bodice, Jackie did not wear any necklace, just a pair of earrings and elbow length gloves. Jackie spoke French and she smiled.
A smile so mesmerizing, like those embroidered lilies of valley on her bodice, that it transformed her childhood hero into her admirer, and melted the heart and principle of Andre Malraux, the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, to allow Mona Lisa to go to the United States, the first time in French History.
January 1963, Washington D.C. USA. Mona Lisa, the most famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci, arrived in national gallery of Washington, with the company of its guardian Andre Malraux.
Jacquline Kennedy, in a dress designed by a French man, touched his whole country, and she changed history.