How do you remember something you never knew? The orphaned opening words of Arnys et moi, journalist Philippe Trétiack’s memoir of the late and legendary Paris shop Arnys, raise that question: “I never stepped in. I never bought anything there. And now, it’s too late.”
The Earth is six billion years old, but the oldest surface of the floor of its oceans – more than 70% of its area – is only two hundred million years old. At the boundaries between tectonic plates, rather like a geological conveyor belt, a process called subduction forces surfaces down, down, down below the Earth’s crust into its mantle. In such a way ancient surfaces are continuously, inexorably destroyed and renewed without any regard to human life, span or sanity.
Instead of a gentle close, summer weltered and sweltered on. Social media automatically reminded a friend that on that same date exactly a decade before, she’d written about the joys of a cooler season, the rituals of changing out summer clothes for sweaters and all the changes in clothing colors that accompanied those of the leaves around us. Now, temperatures continued to notch the 90s under skies where the sun pounded down.
The great writer Stendhal, author of The Red and the Black, once wrote that he was so overcome by the beauty and culture of Florence that he had heart palpitations and “walked with the fear of falling.” Two centuries on, dozens of other visitors to Florence have similarly experienced what doctors now call “Stendhal syndrome,” a general term for overwhelming emotional response to art.
A walk home after dinner at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. Heavy rain. Neighbors who had just fertilized their sizeable yard with manure, of all things in a city. The resulting unspeakable slurry that collected and eddied on our sidewalk easily overcame my dress boots, and pushed me to act on a longstanding temptation, even if it was like closing the barn door after the cow – unfortunately not metaphorical enough – had left.
When I first told my parents I wanted a fountain pen, they laughed at me. A generation that had grown up learning to write on the scratchy, messy, finicky things couldn’t believe that someone would want to turn his back on the easy, consistent and reliable world of rollerballs and ballpoints and fuss with inkwells, pistons and sensitive nibs. Of course, they didn’t realize that for many of us today, the fuss of the old-fashioned is the draw.
Many of the best clothing-industry memoirs, such as Martin Greenfield’s Measure of a Man, spend less time describing the writer’s time in the industry than they do the circumstances that led the writer to the business. Or, as Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day calls it in the fascinating Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem, the hustle. And for him, it was the attraction of, for the first time, carrying out “a hustle with no vic[tim]s.”
If not even bankers, the profession we suppose kept expensive custom tailors in business (because almost no other profession can still afford them), are wearing suits, then who is still wearing them? What will bankers wear instead? And what is to become of the suit?