Dear Shaded Viewers,

I spent a lovely afternoon at the Vestoj Storytelling Salon. Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, the force behind VESTOJ, put together a group of six Storytellers, each with their own material memory. We were told not to take any photos so the only ones that I have are from before the sessions and of Simon Costin, the final storyteller who encouraged the photo of him wearing the Stephen Jones Folklore Museum hat. 

For those of you unfamiliar with VESTOJ, it is an annual journal about fashion and dress, bridging the gap between theory and practice in fashion. So far there have been four issues and I highly encourage you to visit the VESTOJ site.  I'm not sure how many of the issues are still available but you can investigate and find that out. The issues are : 'Material Memories', 'Fashion and Magic', 'Fashion and Shame' and 'Fashion and Power'. 

Each story was an account of a material memory linked to the life of the storyteller and a garment.

The Storytellers: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac gave a spell binding account of his adventure when he was asked to dress 5,000 priests, 500 bishops and the Pope for their visit to Paris. The theme of the collection was the rainbow based on the story of Noah and the arc. God spoke to Noah and told him that "if you see the rainbow in the sky there will be peace between me and the human race". The idea went over well but Jean-Charles felt he needed to tell the Bishop that the rainbow was also the symbol of the gay community. The Bishop's reaction was not one of shock but rather he said that nobody owned the copyright on the rainbow and that was that. Once the work was completed the Pope spoke to Jean-Charles and said: "Young man, you have used colour as a cement of faith." Clearly this event marked the life of Jean-Charles. Frances Corner, the Head of London College of Fashion spoke about feminisim and the power of her wedding dress, Simon Costin spoke about his folklore musuem hat designed by Stephen Jones, Ingmari Lamy spoke about her early days as a model and her relationship with the photographer Bob Richardson, how a photo shoot for Vogue got cancelled when he proposed marriage to her, she rejected him and lost the pages. However, unlike his son, he kept his dick in his pants. Michele Lamy gave a great story about the 'ghost dress' that Rick had designed early on in his career and she wore the mermaid dress made of the finest menswear fabric in India when she was staying at the Imperial Hotel, old memory of mine, I stayed there too probably around the same time. She loved wearing the dress sweeping through the streets of Delhi and later lent it to a friend who was performing a striptease at one of her legendary nightspots, Cafe des Artistes or Les Deux Cafes, I don't remember which one. Anyway the dress never came back to her and periodically she asked for it but to no avail, she also asked Rick to recreate it but he refused and so the dress will always remain the 'Ghost' dress and will stay alive but only in her memory. Irene Silvagni dressed in a timeless oversized military coat of Yohji Yamamoto told a very moving story about how her mother was put in an Auschwitz concentration camp and never came back and only one person that had been taken away with her returned and told her the story of why her mother would not be coming back. Much later while working as the creative director at Yohji Yamamoto he designed a collection based on the military and the women left behind waiting for their men to come back, the designs were oversized like a woman in a man's clothes, military, keeping the memory of their men alive. She said the idea of the collection was protection and everytime she wears the beautiful, oversized wool coat from that collection that she had on today, she feels protected, and I might add it is a beautiful timeless piece.

After all of these wonderful stories Anja invited us all to lunch. There were so many people there that a group of 8 of us were taken to lunch at Nanashi by Kristopher Arden Hauser. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday. Very inspiring and it made me think that initiatives like this one of Anja's and those of Olivier Saillard make me know why it is I live in Paris.



Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.