Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Feeling recruited yet, today?

In the annals of tradition's tawdry tran-
sitioning from practical custom to acquis-
itive compulsion, we naturally cast our
mind back to the Bronze Age, when a metal
suitable for molding emerged as one more
noted for burnishing, not to say petting
into iconographic sculpture. Yet, never
ones to overlook the inventiveness of re-
cent generations, we have to ask, what
was wrong with the First World War? It
was, after all, from that watershed of
improvisatory ferment that the hallowed
plaid of Burberry first loomed large, to
magnify the wearer as a target, and so
to indulge its manufacture by such sur-
plus as to survive the original hostil-
ities, to concentrate class struggle at
home in Clapham. What was wrong with the
First World War, was pessimism.

In their unreasonably brilliant movie on
life in Clapham at the end of that war,
up to its resumption in 1939, Sir David
Lean, Sir Noel Coward, Sir Ronald Neame,
and a cast of immortals from the London
stage portray this civilian adaptation
of a military artifact with telling point,
as the maternally cautious Celia Johnson
inquires of her most incautious daughter,
Kay Walsh, if she has brought her Mac[in-
tosh] on their way to the Park. It's not
a Mac, the girl corrects her. It's a Bur-
berry. The tale goes on to delineate the
doom inchoate in that branding, as gent-
ly as her ticket to Singapore in 1939.

Over the weekend just passed, we all had
occasion to follow the movings-on of the
Burberry CEO and head of design, as re-
ported in The New York Times. As one verse
in his swan swong this Fall season, he an-
nounces the plaid's embrace of the logo-
type colors associated with the worldwide
movement for gender freedoms, not that he
has ever signaled much neglect of market
realities. A plaid, so inextricable from
baubles, has set its sights on the heart-
strings of history, and can anyone remind
me where I laid my trusty Macintosh?

ii  Swatch, Burberry
    The New York Times
    February 17, 2018©

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