A good get-up

23/03/2012 § Leave a comment

I am wearing yellow tights today and my colleague compared me to Gudrun from Women in Love. (Actually, he called “What price the stockings?” at me.) 

But that reminded me how amazing the outfits are in Women in Love. Which is available in searchable form on Project Gutenberg, so here are the most luscious outfits described in the books (and all of them here [pdf]). Surely Gudrun is the most stylish literary figure ever written?

Gudrun was the more beautiful and attractive, she had decided again, Ursula was more physical, more womanly. She admired Gudrun’s dress more. It was of green poplin, with a loose coat above it, of broad, dark-green and dark-brown stripes. The hat was of a pale, greenish straw, the colour of new hay, and it had a plaited ribbon of black and orange, the stockings were dark green, the shoes black. It was a good get-up, at once fashionable and individual.

… all the far end of the place began booing after Gudrun’s retreating form. She was fashionably dressed in blackish-green and silver, her hat was brilliant green, like the sheen on an insect, but the brim was soft dark green, a falling edge with fine silver, her coat was dark green, lustrous, with a high collar of grey fur, and great fur cuffs, the edge of her dress showed silver and black velvet, her stockings and shoes were silver grey.

[Hermione] was a strange figure in the class-room, wearing a large, old cloak of greenish cloth, on which was a raised pattern of dull gold. The high collar, and the inside of the cloak, was lined with dark fur. Beneath she had a dress of fine lavender-coloured cloth, trimmed with fur, and her hat was close-fitting, made of fur and of the dull, green-and-gold figured stuff. She was tall and strange, she looked as if she had come out of some new, bizarre picture.

And I couldn’t agree more with this:

‘One gets the greatest joy of all out of really lovely stockings,’ said Ursula.

‘One does,’ replied Gudrun; ‘the greatest joy of all.’

If I can find it later, I will add a bit from the very amusing essay in which Angela Carter accuses D.H. Lawrence of being a stocking fetishist.

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Nina Hamnett

03/11/2011 § Leave a comment

I had a wonderful collection of stockings at that time and wore flat-heeled shoes with straps on them like children do. They made my feet look very large. They cost five francs and were worn by concierges. I had red stockings and yellow stockings and some that looked like a chess board. Modigliani would run after me up the Boulevard Raspail after the Rotonde had closed. He could always see me because of my loud stockings. One night he nearly caught me so I climbed up a lamp-post and waited at the top till he had gone.

We worked during the daytime. I painted Still Life and worked at the Academy from the nude in the afternoon. We did a great deal of work. We had a tabby cat. One day we were all very broke, myself, the Pole and the Arab. For three days we could not find a penny, we did not mind much about ourselves, but we were so sorry for the cat, who had to starve also. We had a lot of Modigliani’s books and in despair the Pole took one on philosophy and read it to us. As he turned over the pages he suddenly came across a HUNDRED FRANC NOTE. Modigliani’s wife used to hide money away from him and this was one of his notes. We were so delighted that we rushed into the nearest workmen’s restaurant, taking the cat with us, and ate and drank to Modigliani’s health the whole evening.

I went daily to the Luxembourg Gardens where I did some really good work, I think. There is a statue there that I always admired. It is of a lady standing up.with her feet crossed, in a very short skirt indeed, and a strange little hat like an inverted soup plate. I did a drawing of her. Some years later I went to the Bal Julien dressed as her. I wore a pink silk accordion pleated garment, that really was a pair of knickers. They had no legs, but only a ribbon to divide them. I borrowed them from a rich American woman and cut the ribbon so that it looked exactly like the skirt of the statue. They had garlands of blue silk forget-me-nots embroidered on them. I wore a short blue, tight-fitting jacket that I had bought at the “Flea market” at Caulincourt and a very small blue hat that looked like a comedian’s bowler. It was very flat and looked very like the one worn by the statue. I had a great success at the ball, especially when I explained whom I represented.

All quotations from Laughing Torso by Nina Hamnett.

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