When my mother got married she kept her career and maiden name, but what best encapsulates her as a classic Second Wave feminist is her wedding gown: a simple, waist-less, off-white dress that she wore to parties for years afterwards. For women like my Mom, who rejected restrictive post-war dresses along with restrictive post-war roles, fashion was considered a superficial frivolity, if it wasn’t outright ignored. When asked, she can only describe a handful of past outfits from memory, but their significance is increased by their small number. What makes the blue dress she packed for a trip to Portugal stand out more than the business suits she wore every day to the office?
Love, Loss and What I Wore, written by Nora and Delia Ephron, brings clothing to the foreground in order to recount women’s memories of growing up, hooking up, aging and discovering their identities. Based on the surprise bestseller by Ilene Beckerman, in which the author told the story of her life through drawings of memorable outfits along with tales from other women, the show is as much a party as a play, the gathering of the sisterhood to dish cathartically about the terrors of bras, change-rooms and over-stuffed purses.
The Toronto cast, seated in a row and dressed chicly in black, is made up of the friendly faces of Canadian TV. Louise Pitre portrays Beckerman, whose life stories and poster-sized illustrations provide the only narrative structure. Her gentle reminiscences are often overshadowed by the more risqué tales recounted by the other actors.