Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simone and Virginia

The time-obsessed Virginia has been joined by her stylish friend Simone.

Did they ever meet in life? It is possible: Virginia (1882-1941) and Simone (1908-1986) lived partly contemporaneously (is that the word?).

Virginia was hopeless with clothes, never knew what looked good on her, and nervous about buying new ones.

Simone was more interested in clothes than Virginia. Of her early working life as a teacher:

We were also very concerned about our dress and make-up. Colette's usual garb consisted of Lacoste shirtwaists and daringly but successfully contrasted scarfs. She also owned a very attractive jacket (we thought it magnificent) of black leather, with white revers. Simone  [Labourdin] had a girl friend who bought her clothes in the grandes maisons, and who occasionally made her a present of some studiedly simple ensemble. My own single concession to elegance lay in my sweaters, which my mother knitted for me from very carefully chosen patterns, and which were often copied by my pupils. Our make-up and hair styling  gave the lie to that odd ideal which a parent had once enthusiastically suggested to Colette Audry, that we should pursue a 'secular nun' effect.

Simone de Beauvoir, The Prime of Life

Though she wasn't much interested in clothes, in A Room of One's Own, Virginia stood up for women's interests:

Yet it is the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are 'important'; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes 'trivial'. And these values are transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room ...
... everywhere and much more subtly the difference of value persists.

 And whom do I prefer? Though both these women are well-represented on my shelves, I'm a Virginia woman myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment