‘ Merde I Love Jimmy Choo’
Fashion, a reflection of self and spirit, is threaded through the journey of several characters in my book Mi Dei Pa’am, but especially in its’ protagonist, Maeve. Exhausted and weary at war’s end, she is ‘a wannabe’ dressmaker from the wrong side of town who gets lucky and becomes a fashion designer come model.
At the heart of Maeve’s journey from her erstwhile ‘sepia coloured ‘ world is her passion for fashion, sparked by a post-war social revolution which allows her to rise like a Phoenix from war’s ashes.
Re-emerging from the mayhem that was Nazi Germany, one of her lovers, Manny Blumenthal, despite incarceration in a concentration camp, emanates from a wealthy Berlin -Jewish family of successful entrepreneurs in the fashion industry. What he doesn’t know about the business isn’t worth knowing .
He teaches Maeve everything he knows and more, as he falls in love with the beautiful red- headed protégé he has plucked out of obscurity and launches her into a fashion world he is at the centre of redesigning. Maeve’s renaissance as a ‘new woman’ echoes an embryonic societal change in the burgeoning roles of women in the work place. As her star rises, she becomes an equal partner in the business that they have created together.
Fashion as society’s mirror image; captures a kaleidoscope of diversity which simultaneously empowers , transforms, unifies and divides. Fashion, inextricably linked with culture and popular music zig zags through social history in melodies with capricious lyrics. Clothes, or the lack of them, echo and influence societal prejudice, perception, position and place, of which Maeve was acutely aware.
Fashion, Lady Gaga sings, is central to self -expression: ‘Fashion put it all on me, I am anyone you want me to be’. My heroine, Maeve, uses fashion to do just that and reinvents herself through her talent in design. At war’s end, women from all social classes were at last going places and demanding universal access to high fashion, where previously couture was typically only for the wealthy. The demand was now for easy to wear, off the peg clothes which allowed freedom of movement for the new army of nascent working women. Fashion-wise, post-world war two heralded the end of couture’s dominance, despite the influence of Dior’s ‘New Look’.
Women, at last, were on a slow-burning ascent as the fuse that ignited the explosion of revolutionary change in the 60’s was fired by the embers of a post-war 40’s that demanded transformation. The role and persona of women shifted from the submissive, saccharine-sweet eye-candied, ‘pug-nose, dream-dressed, in polka dots and moonbeams’ in Frank Sinatra’s 1940’s song, to an independent siren in his daughter Nancy’s 1960’s, ‘these boots are made for walking’, to Lady Gaga’s empowering, ‘Merde I love Jimmy Choo .’
So, do I love Jimmy Choo ? Yeah, if I could afford them!