Mark Twain concluded an analysis of modern religion with "--why the God I
believe in is too busy spinning spheres to have time to listen to human prayers."
How often his words have been in our mind since war has shaken our planet.
THE ARTIST AND HIS COSTUME
HE world has the habit of deriding that which it does not understand. It
is the most primitive way of bolstering one's limitations. How often the
woman or man with a God-given sense of the beautiful, the fitting,
harmony between costume and setting, is described as poseur or poseuse
by those who lack the same instinct. In a sense, of course, everything man does,
beyond obeying the rudimentary instincts of the savage, is an affectation, and it is
not possible to claim that even our contemporary costuming of man or woman
always has raison d'être.
We accept as the natural, unaffected raiment for woman and man that which
custom has taught us to recognise as appropriate, with or without reason for being.
For example, the tall, shiny, inflexible silk hat of man, and the tortuous high French
heels of woman are in themselves neither beautiful, fitting, nor made to meet the
special demands of any setting or circumstance. Both hat and heels are fashions,
unbeautiful and uncomfortable, but to the eye of man to-day serve as insignia of
formal dress, decreed by society.
The artist nature has always assumed poetic license in the matter of dress, and as a
rule defied custom, to follow an inborn feeling for beauty. That much-maligned
short velvet coat and soft loose tie of the painter or writer, happen to have a most
decided raison d'être; they represent comfort, convenience, and in the case of the
velvet coat, satisfy a sensitiveness to texture, incomprehensible to other natures. As
for the long hair of some artists, it can be a pose, but it has in many cases been
absorption in work, or poverty--the actual lack of money for the conventional
haircut. In cities we consider long hair on a man as effeminate, an indication of
physical weakness, but the Russian peasant, most sturdy of individuals, wears his
hair long, and so do many others among extremely primitive masculine types, who
live their lives beyond the reach of Fashion and barbers.
The short hair of the sincere woman artist is to save time at the toilette.
There is always a limited number of men and women who, in ordinary acts of life,
respond to texture, colour or line, as others do to music or scenery, and to be at
their best in life, must dress their parts as they feel them. Japanese actors who play
the parts of women, dress like women off the stage, and live the lives of women as
nearly as possible, in order to acquire the feeling for women's garments; they train
their bodies to the proper feminine carriage, counting upon this to perfect their
The woman who rides, hunts, shoots, fishes, sails her own boat, paddles, golfs and
plays tennis, is very apt to look more at home in habit, tweeds and flannels, than
she does in strictly feminine attire; the muscles she has acquired in legs and arms,
from violent exercise, give an actual, not an assumed, stride and a swing to the
upper body. In sports clothes, or severely tailored costume, this woman is at her
best. Most trying for her will be demi-toilette (house gowns). She is beautiful at
night because a certain balance, dignity and grace are lent her by the décolletage
and train of a dinner or ball gown. English women who are devotees of sport,
demonstrate the above fact over and over again.
While on the subject of responsiveness to texture and colour we would remind the
reader that Richard Wagner hung the room in which he worked at his operas with
bright silks, for the art stimulus he got from colour, and it is a well-known fact that
he derived great pleasure from wearing dressing gowns and other garments made
from rich materials.
Clyde Fitch, our American playwright, when in his home, often wore velvet or
brocaded silks. They were more sympathetic to his artist nature, more in accord
with his fondness for wearing jewelled studs, buttons, scarf-pins. In his town and
country houses the main scheme, leading features and every smallest detail were
the result of Clyde Fitch's personal taste and effort, and he, more than most men
and women, appreciated what a blot an inartistic human being can be on a room
which of itself is a work of art.
Souvenirs of an artist designer's unique
establishment, in spirit and accomplishment
vrai Parisienne. Notice the long cape in the
style of 1825.
Tappé himself will tell you that all periods
have had their beautiful lines and colours;
their interesting details; that to find beauty
one must first have the feeling for it; that if
one is not born with this subtle instinct, there
are manifold opportunities for cultivating it.
His claim is the same as that made in our Art
of Interior Decoration; the connoisseur is one
who has passed through the schooling to be
acquired only by contact with masterpieces,
--those treasures sifted by time and
preserved for our education, in great art
Tappé emphasises the necessity of knowing
the background for a costume before planning
it; the value of line in the physique beneath
the materials; the interest to be woven into a
woman's costume when her type is
recognised, and the modern insistence on
appropriateness--that is, the simple gown
and close hat for the car, vivid colours for
field sports or beach; a large fan for the
woman who is mistress of sweeping lines,
Tappé is absolutely French in his insistence
upon the possible eloquence of line; a single
flower well poised and the chic which is
dependent upon how a hat or gown is put on.
We have heard him say: "No, I will not claim
the hat in that photograph, though I made it,
because it is mal posé."
Sketched for "Woman as
Decoration" by Thelma
In England, and far more so in America, men are put down as effeminate who wear
jewelry to any marked extent. But no less a person than King Edward VII always
wore a chain bangle on his arm, and one might cite countless men of the Continent
as thoroughly masculine--Spaniards in particular--who wear as many jewelled
rings as women. Apropos of this, a famous topaz, worn as a ring for years by a
distinguished Spaniard was recently inherited by a relation in America--a woman.
The stone was of such importance as a gem, that a record was kept of its passing
from France into America. As a man's ring it was impressive and the setting such as
to do it honour, but being a man's ring, it was too heavy for a woman's use. A
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