Basic me.

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I came across this selfie when I was looking for photos of Marie Antoinette’s tomb in Paris, and as I found that I have equally important things to say about this outfit of mine, I shall postpone my article about Marie Antoinette’s last resort. So, instead of learning that Proust lived quite nearby, on the opposite side of the street actually, you learn about what I wore the day I went to see the tomb of France’s notorious queen. I actually never take selfies, but on this day, in the restroom of a bistrot next to Galerie Maeght and Deyrolle in St.Germain, I had to (although, is it a selfie if you leave your head out? Well, I had just visited the tomb of Marie Antoinette and let’s not forget she was beheaded, too), as I was wearing my favourite jacket, I’ve been wearing it day in, day out ever since the day I bought it at Hamburg’s Jil Sander flagship store, it’s from an autumn/winter collection when Raf Simons was still in charge. It’s been in the washing machine dozens of times, its zipper is mostly out of order, and if it works it gets stuck in the tiny pleat that frames the zipper, nice detail, nicely sewn, but not very intelligently placed, its only fault actually, but I wonder if Madame Bertin would have lost her head sooner than Marie Antoinette if she had ever confronted Sa Majesté with such thoughtlessness in tailoring, anyway, then there’s my favourite pair of jeans ever, the only one that I will really miss, from that frightful day on when they dissolve into thin air, Ralph Lauren will be invited to attend its funeral, and one of my many black crew neck cashmere pullovers, a cheap one, no logo, but their quality is actually the same, a white shirt, you only see its cuffs, I think it’s from Charvet, and my beloved Hermès scarf, 140 x 140 cm, silk and cotton, imprimeur fou, Les Clefs and some other iconic design printed on top of it (or the other way round). That’s it. Basic me. Tomorrow, I might wear the very same, so you won’t have any difficulties recognizing me in the streets.

Gone with the wind.

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One day, I bought this thing. Raf Simons for Jil Sander. I loved it. I was the only one though. Aha, my mother said. It looks like you were wearing a tie, a colleague said. Adding, but why would you wear a tie? Nobody said, well, that’s a smart vest. Nobody. I wore it anyway. No, it’s still no tie, I said. People never learn from their mistakes. Anyway, here’s the thing: For one summer, I stopped eating carbs altogether. You’re familiar with the concept, I guess. I had lost so much weight that this vest, once quite près du corps, just hung on me, just like Monica Geller’s high school outfits did on her, the wind would play with it, a shapeless mass of cotton, the non-existent tie always staying in place of course, mocking me, the Duchess of Windsor was wrong, you can never be too rich, alright, but you definitely can be too thin, I suddenly looked like I shopped for clothes in gift shops, at the tie museum gift shop maybe, I never wore it again. The moral of the story? Don’t ever lose weight.

Nuit blanche.

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In 2002, my friend Julia and I went to Berlin, we strolled around, went to museums, to all those architectural gems on Museumsinsel, had lots of fun, met a colleague of Julia’s when we had tea at the Adlon, the city’s most distinguished hotel at the time, he was staying there during a film production for a TV commercial, the client apparently being very generous, imagine his surprise when he saw us there, comforted by all this utter luxury, having tea and cake, served with dozens of splendid silver tea and hot water pots, silver milkers and a multitude of silver etageres for petits fours, sugar diversities and other stuff, with a strange vacuous expression on our faces after walking and talking for hours, we must have seemed liked bored habitués on their honeymoon, with nothing particular to do on an afternoon, and so we told him about some sort of necessary sudden marriage, leaving him so covered with confusion that he bumped into one of the Adlon waiters. Later in the day, our spirits high again, we sat for hours at the Literaturhaus Café on Fasanenstrasse, dining and drinking, until not only were we sat on the streets after closing hours but our last train to Hamburg had left, too. We were stranded. Stranded in Berlin. We walked up and down Kurfürstendamm, and all of the side streets, void of people at this time of night, discussing every single item of the displayed clothing, jewellery and shoes in extenso, with an air of hoboes, some tramps into style, desperate with no place to go, at least until the first train to Hamburg would take us back. In the middle of the night, Jil Sander’s windows offered some light at least, her flagship store was bright as hell, and Milan Vukmirovic, the designer in charge at the time, obviously had a thing for lovers that summer collection of 2002, the lettering came on t-shirts and in even larger lettering in the flagship store’s window. Julia put me just next to it and took a shot with her camera, quite appropriately so, as I was wearing my beloved ice blue Jil Sander jacket, I wore it to death, and I still miss it, I couldn’t even throw it away when it was no longer wearable, damaged by being way too often in the washing machine’s wool wash cycle, I hate dry cleaning just as much as Paul Smith, but its ice blue colour was prone to smudging, it’s been buried for years in my parents’ attic, in some suitcase, anyway, at the time it was still new and it suited me well enough to make me feel like just the sort of lover Milan Vukmirovic had in mind when designing the collection. At least that’s what I firmly believed. Julia never contradicted me. And women, as we all know, know it all.

Tub time.

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Soaking in the tub on a Wednesday night is a wonderful thing, sipping red wine from a glass wet with condensation, trying not to get your reading material wet while singing along to Benjamin Biolay’s Rose Kennedy album, novembre toute l’année, toute l’année c’est novembre, happily indulging in November tristesse although it’s only late October, but hell, one has to be prepared, eye creams come and eye creams go, you’re learning about new books, raising your brow at the latest gossip, getting to know Warren Beatty better, one of the guys you might have forgotten about otherwise, Vanity Fair seldomly disappoints, Benjamin Biolay features Marilyn Monroe, the volume goes up, I’m waiting for the neighbours to complain about it, suddenly realizing it’s still early, not like last time when Robbie Williams was screaming through the house, way past midnight, when I had to be so very apologetic to those people from downstairs, answering the door dripping wet, red like a fresh boiled lobster, wrapped in an ancient towel, Jil Sander from the early 1980s, part of what my mother ironically described as my dowry, with the old logo with the red plus sign following the name as it was originally designed by Peter Schmidt, they changed it in the 90s for whatever reasons, purism, I guess, but that towel hasn’t changed much, it might have lost some of its softness, but none of its style, and I can confirm that in that towel I was much better dressed than my neighbours in their matching comic pyjamas.

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Freudian slip.

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I really don’t know what I had in mind. But on one of my Mr Porter nights, I obviously felt quite kinky and thought that red would be a nice colour to wear, why not look like a coke can or a stop sign gone wild, no more blending in with the crowd, floating raspberry juice, look, it’s me, aren’t I swell? I still wonder if I should have mentioned that sudden need for attention in therapy, or better yet, worn these pants while in session, let them scream while I was reminiscing on the couch, my mostly bored psychiatrist might have seen me in a completely different light, she might have put me on tranquilizers right away, instead of insisting that I should live a little more, although, who was she to tell me that, she wore nothing but beige and navy, but whatever her reaction might have been, I will never find out, I have left her to her own devices, started to live a little more, but this fashion statement is one I’ve never made, yet. I really must have them stitched up some day, walk the streets, draw attention, big time, and give my thanks to Jil Sander later in the day.

Bad influence.

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Mr Porter and I meet mostly at night. Actually, I cannot recall having met him in broad daylight. Not ever. He seems very nice. Very reliable. And he’s got such nice mates. Ms Sander and Mr Balmain for instance. Perfectly suitable company for a gentleman. But truth be told, he’s not a good friend at all. On the contrary. He steals my money, really, he does it each time we meet, he just grabs it out of my pockets, right after putting me off guard with some smooth fashion talk, taking advantage of my vanity, it’s an easy task actually, he just has to wait until my defences are down, he’s waiting for me when I come home after working long hours, he’s right there, in his little stylish app on my home screen, and the very moment my frustrations set in, caused by deadlines, cranky clients and even crankier creative directors, when the alcohol starts to work, these soothing 13.5 vol. of a good Château Whatever, when I’m ready to be distracted, ready to think a pair of trousers might change it all, that’s when he strikes, that’s the moment when he’s hitting me and my bank account, leaving me with nothing but another pair of trousers. But there’s no way of getting rid of him. I wonder if you know him, too. I cannot be his only victim, can I?

It runs in the family.

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In the early 1980s, a close friend of my mother’s owned a boutique, selling mostly Jil Sander, long before the Pradas had cast an eye at the brand, when the Hamburg flagship store was still on Milchstrasse, a paradise lost with the most stylish windows, and years before Jil Sander did menswear. But I digress. My mother’s friend Angelika is a woman of exquisite taste, she drove a vintage Rolls-Royce at that time, a 1972 Silver Shadow, dark green, I’ll never forget its backseat, that supple leather, one just dove into softness, it actually breathed luxury, although unlike the 1954 Bentley Type R of Luca Turin’s stepfather, it didn’t smell like Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. Well, you can’t have it all. But I digress again. In Angelika’s boutique, there was no cash desk, she had a Biedermeier secretary instead, very old Biedermeier, from the 1810s, an adjustment to her interior design notion, where she sat down to sip her tea, write her bills, stuff the cash into one of the drawers, and take a new pack of cigarettes from another one. When she closed the store and stopped selling Jil Sander’s various shades of beige, some twenty years ago, I got this beautiful piece of furniture, it had a hard time moving with me from one apartment to another, it lost most of its ivory knobs, got bruised and kicked, but I wouldn’t want to live without it, to me it’s a piece of family history, a most treasured heirloom indeed.