The Drake salonnière women

In 17th century Paris, Hôtel de Rambouillet was the enlightened place to be. Catherine de Vivonne, a society figure/major French literary figure, would invite all the poor writers over to socialize, and over time, these writers would develop their artful letters via the enlightened conversations that were had in many of the small rooms that Mme de Ramboullet had set aside.

Salons were ruled by women: they determined the scope of the salon, broke down class and gender barriers and even got their own informal university education (which wasn’t exactly available to them at the time). And you can rest assure that the soft pleats of their court dress got a little rumpled with all that lounging.

So us WORN women are quite excited about the opportunity we have to reclaim the blue stockings tradition later today at Toronto’s Drake Hotel. We have to been asked to host a stylish salon, with our very own G. Stegelmann and recent Worn Crush/fashion illustrator gadabout Danielle Meder leading the charge. Do we have full skirts to wear? It’s cold, no. But we — the Wornettes, Editor-in-pants, assorted editrixes — will bring good conversation (although we hope you suggest topics in the comments below, please).

DRAKESALON PRESENTS Inspiring Style
Tuesday, March 3rd, 6pm
the Drake Hotel in the Lounge Room, (1150 Queen Street West) FREE.

Make the beautiful people chartreuse with envy, by strutting your unique look and joining in a cultured conversation on the inspiration of great style. Join the editors of Worn Fashion Journal in conversation with style blogger Danielle Meder for an independent look at the evolution of personal style. An essential event in the lead up to Toronto Fashion Week

8 thoughts on “The Drake salonnière women

  1. When Danielle mentioned whether it bothered us that some people in the fashion industry do not dress with “fashionably” or with style- I thought well if a person is wearing what they wanted to wear, that is their style. Getting up and putting on what your friends wear or what your mom told you to wear (what you feel you have to wear) is not stylish or fashionable. We all seemed to agree that making an effort and certainly wearing something different than what is “expected” is stylish. I suppose it is going against the grain when people from the fashion industry don’t dress like everyone else in the fashion industry but isn’t that what’s great about it? As an example Kelly Cutrone was mentioned and how she only wears black and jeans. Well I give her props for not wearing what she “should be” (like we said, success and intelligence is a good excuse to do what you want) and wearing what she wants- her own style which is in a sense doing something different and being unique.

    Also I have always had an attachment to vintage clothes for many of the reasons that were discussed- I love the history behind them, I find that each piece has more character than anything I could find mass produced and I have an attachment to them like I would family- a certain respect for the person who wore the piece before me and loved it as much as I do.
    Some people mentioned that they were buying vintage clothes when they were younger, when their parents expected to them to buy new ones. I come from a different past. After my parents divorced when I was 5, my mom did not have a fulltime job or career and was doing the odd waitressing jobs to keep us afloat. We hit some lows- we were on welfare for a short while (mom was absolutely horrified by the idea of accepting money from someone else) and we did what we had to do. We were still kids and growing fast, it didn’t make sense to purchase new clothes so we shopped at used clothing stores like Value Village and went home with a big bag of outfits. I can’t tell you how special it was to me, I didn’t care where we were shopping, I loved to go into the store and spend the day sifting through the stuff. There were so many stories for me in those racks. Things I could pull out and laugh at, ones that were glamorous but too grown-up for me to fit into, things I wanted to alter and play with but didn’t know how to. But I was never comfortable with telling people where I shopped and didn’t completely feel like I belonged. I never dressed like the kids at school. I couldn’t afford a belt so I used pieces of rope and ribbon. Even if I had saved enough to get something new, it was on sale and often layered strangely with other old pieces.
    When things (financially) got better for us, I still wanted to shop at used clothing stores and I have ever since. It’s so great to know there are a growing number of people that feel as strongly about vintage as I do. I finally bought a belt. I remember a kid at school coming up to me and asking “whatever happened to those cool homemade belts you used to wear?” and I was no longer afraid of being different- it changed the way I saw fashion.

  2. Chelsea, that was fantastic.
    We shopped second-hand too, because there wasn’t a whole lot of money to go around. Though I never told people where I got my clothes (too embarrassing) I loved it. It wasn’t just the fun of the search or the amazing stuff I’d find – it’s that I always felt a bit like I was getting away with something. Honestly, I still feel that way sometimes… To be able to go to a Salvation Army and buy something just to see if I’ll wear it, and feel fine about NEVER wearing it and just re-donating it in a few weeks. It’s so decadent! (And decadence is hard to come by when you’re mostly broke.)
    This might sound a bit nuts, but I think it’s important to be able to discard things – not feel like you have to hang onto everything you own like grim death because it might be the last thing you’ll ever have. It messes with your head to have to think that way.

    And even so, my “vintage” vintage is precious – and whether I wear it or even like it, I can’t get rid of anything that belonged to my mom or dad…

    I would have liked to talk more about the “fetish” idea (though I think we toss around the word in a pretty haphazard context these days) last night, too. I think it would have been interesting to talk about why we cleave to certain objects – where that comes from. I know I have a thing for perfumes, not just bottled, but soaps and even garments that have a certain smell, like leather or fur, or wood furniture, old books. I grow much more attached to those things and tend to respond to them differently than anything else. Why?

    g.

  3. My favorite talking point of the evening was about military fashion, because it hit on so many issues around fashion: how personal style is a mélange of visual signifiers (some of which can be in opposition to one another), how time affects the meaning behind clothing, how vintage pieces are vestiges of times long past. Julian from Model Citizen brought these points to light in a very interesting way. He talked about medals and military crests as aesthetic objects and how they don’t speak to him the way they did for previous generations. He highlighted how many of us don’t know the history of the pieces we wear – we don’t know what battles were fought, who was brave, what they did to survive – and yet we are attracted to the aura of mysticism that surrounds them.

    I would suggest that this sense of acknowledgement without really knowing is what makes vintage so attractive to some. . . it’s full of allure and mystery and glamour. Simply put, it’s romantic. We wear vintage because it brings us closer to the most beautiful parts of those periods – it brings us closer to smoke-filled dance halls, classic Cadillacs, and Hollywood glamour – while simultaneously distancing us from the hardships: war, sexism, homophobia etc. This is because we have the choice, as discussed at The Salon, unlike generations before us who were confined to rigid representations of identity. We have the power to pick and choose the remnants of history that make us feel powerful, sexy, and unique. That is the power of vintage.

  4. I really liked the part especially when Gwen told us how she would rack up prices on special garments until the right person came in and would be willing to pay any price. To me that symbolizes true style, seeing clothing as not just an article of fabric, but having an emotional attachment and appreciation for the construction of the garment. It was really great to listen to people’s thoughts about fashion and sentiment that often comes along with clothing. I related when people were discussing certain pieces of clothing that have more meaning and appeal because we were never forced to wear them. For instance the corset, we see the beauty of the piece because of its craftsmanship and history. Perhaps if we were living in a time period where they were seen as normal everyday where, we would not feel the same way. Regardless, it was great to listen to peoples opinions about style and it made me think about clothing in a new light.

  5. Hee hee. Just to be totally clear – while I did occasionally inflate the tag price on some things, i almost always gave a “discount” to the person who ended up buying the piece. I wasn’t interested in overcharging people AT ALL, just in finding things good homes.

    (The fact is, the whole idea of that is TOTALLY ABSURD, as I have no inherent right to judge who deserves to have what. Not to mention we’re talking about STUFF, not PUPPIES. All I can say in my defense is that I am a sentimental fool and sometimes can’t help myself.)

    One of my favourite sales was to this tiny blond girl looking for a prom dress. Her eyes fell on this perfect tulle-and-chiffon 1940s gown in varying shades of green that was hanging way up on the wall. When she saw the price her expression fell, but I encouraged her to try it on anyway. It was way too long, but the way she lit up, I felt like it sort of belonged to her. I offered to give it to her for half price. Even then she had to put it on layaway… But the best part was that I left it up on the wall and, even when she didn’t have money to put down on it, she would come and and “visit” it until the day she could pick it up.

    This is one very good reason why I would not necessarily call myself “business minded”. HA.
    x.g.

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