Letter to two immortals
Legs of window dummy, 1920s-30s, Germany
Dear, adorable, elegant ladies...
You are time travellers.
Made of carved and lacquered wood, you came into the world at the end of the Roaring Twenties in a Germany already ravaged by hyperinflation, where dark clouds would soon accumulate, casting terror upon the world. Even if the fashion of that time, the one that you so beautifully presented in the various windows you once posed in, has often been interesting, I would much prefer, please forgive me, to follow your illustrious career through the 1950s, 60s... and finally 1970s. When you were, unjustly, relegated to the Accessories department in favour of youngsters, soulless and of moulded plastic.
Forgotten are the dark years, the rationing, silk stockings turned luxury contraband, nylon stockings that GIs carried in their luggage... Eclipsed are the years of war during which fashion, this oh so essential futility that helps us live, ceased to exist. And, while I'm at it, let us skip the 1950s of the wise and amnesic reconstruction, with its ugly concrete buildings in uninspiring shades of brown, hastily erected on the ruins of another world. Let us go directly to the happiest and craziest part of your long life of exhibitionism: when you were the irresistible and wild stars of the 1960s and 1970s. Flower power and sexual liberation, feminist movements and the triumph of colour tights highlighting the improbable and cheerful creation of Miss Mary Quant: the mini-skirt! You must have seen the good times of a large store in Berlin, the ‘Damen’ department, at the beginning of the period that my childhood photographs prevent me, alas, from forgetting the charming stylistic abominations and the dreadful experiments with itchy acrylic fabric, characterizing a capricious but, the truth forces me to admit it, irresistibly cheerful fashion.
You must have seen many a dress with giant daisies walk by! Long-point collars and flared trousers. Brown velvet split skirts and pantsuits in synthetic fabric worn with a lavallière blouse... You probably had to pose more often than not with mustard yellow, bright red, duck blue or fir green tights.
But everything must end. Today’s window mannequins are biodegradable. They are politically correct. And boring. They have no history. No past. And yet here you are, naked and beautiful, so touching, barely marked by the ravages of time, sitting on an old wooden chair, sanded, now worthy of a boudoir. And blushing with joy, I think. Removed from the windows and the passing fashion but still adorably distracting and impeccably bent, crossed as they should be: you could be having tea. Or more likely a gin and tonic. Before racing through the streets, wrapped in colourful nylon, at the wheel of your first-generation Mini Cooper and dreaming of a cheerful fashion, full of orange and green flowers, red plastic bubble radios and song-filled tomorrows.
May you live long, pretty ladies, and may the years to come be carefree and bring you lots of lovers, laughter and joy! You will be for ever young....