France. A documentary. Marion and I like the type of documentary we refer to as “people into their thing”. This is a perfect example. The main subjects are four old school artisans who make the pleated fabrics, and hats and feahter boas and other stuff that goes into haute couture from houses like Dior and Chanel. These are people whose families have been in the business for generations. They are crafts people, not fashionistas. Walking down the street they look like bakers and accountants. My admiration for the uncompromising attention to tradition and detail is just perfectly balanced by the absurd use to which these talents are put. The hats are the best example. Incredible level of craftsmanship, mind you, but for what?
I have yet to decode the attraction of the silly and, to my mind, misogynistic world of high fashion. Starting with the shoes. There was a scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” in which the Anna Wintour character upbraids her new assistant for insufficient appreciation of the effort and creativity that went into making a particular share of blue the big color for a year. The movie failed. The rejoinder was right there waiting to be spoken, “So what?”. What difference does it make what shade of blue is hot until they decide to make some other color hot? None, says I.
Of course the artisans are dying out. Business that have been in families for generations are not coming up with enough heirs who want to stay in the business. They got a four of them together to talk about what is happening to the industry. They call themselves dinosaurs, not only because they are old, they are my age, but because their species is going extinct. I have to say, they expressed exactly what I have been feeling about my own life’s work. My business is changing, not exactly for the worse, but there will be less creativity, more regimentation, and by the time I’m ready to stop working, it will be a different business. Its evolution. I’m a dinosaur. But, hey, the birds started out as dinosaurs.