anna and i were watching the thin man  last night. i am, by my own admission, a major fan of both william powell and myrna loy. but boy some of the fashions for women in this flick bordered on science fiction. beautiful but so expressive of their era.
fashions for men, on the other hand, haven't really changed. the suits powell wore could be worn today. in fact, fashions for men have not changed very much since the late 19th century. suits remain suits. sometimes lapel widths and tie colors change but the overall architecture for the suit is just the same as it has been for nearly 130 or 130 years.
i wonder why.
could it be that men don't care about fashion.
could it be that once you arrive at a cut of clothes there is no changing it, that the suit has achieved a apotheosis of a sort. the suit is a kind of cockroach. it is nearly perfect in form and function and therefore can not evolve into anything else.
powell as detective nick charles does look good. so does myrna loy in her grand hats, furs [yes, furs, remember the era this flick was made in, i don't condone the wearing, or possession, of furs but man loy could wear a raggedy towel and still look sexy], and dresses. part of the charm of watching a 80 plus year old movie is to see what people wore and what the homes and offices they lived and worked in looked like. movies are not museum pieces. they are living documents of how people lived in their own present. the charms of the cinema is to witness how life was lived in a particular era.
i had a friend, the late poet pearl stein selinsky, who said fashion was just as important as well everything else. i agree. otherwise we wouldn't care what we wear. clothes define us as we define current fashions. each one of us wishes to express ourselves by what we choose to put on our bodies, and that includes piercings, tattoos, shoes and our under garments. so then why did fashions for men, and here i mean in particular the suit, stop at its current design.
but then again why are we still fascinated and influenced by writers like gertrude stein, wallace stevens, and other early 20th century modernists. how can a 1000 year old chinese poet still talk to us. why do 35000 year old cave paintings bring us to tears.
because calendar time is a human construct. time is timeless and so fashions and art and the human being changes and also remains the same. because the human being stretches backward as well as forward while occupying the present.
so looking at william powell in his dapper suits i thought that is one cool dude. the greatest compliment one could say to me is to call me the william powell of world poetry. a poet of his era, but timeless and cool.
i could dream, yes