"We think back through our mothers, if we are women"
-Virginia Woolf, A room of ones own
Today Radio 4 Woman's Hour, which often tickles my ever so geekish, yet feminine fancies, hosted a special programme on fashion. Fantastique! A number of thrilling subjects were broached, each of which Im sure I will regurgitate in my own inadequate way at some later point on this blog.
What really struck me about the program, was a theme which each of the guests kept returning to: their mothers. Justine somebody, who has written (one of the many) biographies of Coco Chanel, said that she thought fashion was so popular because it relates to our 'eternal search to understand your mother'. This idea really hit home for me.
It is not exaggeration to state that the way I remember is through clothes. Clothing for me is a sensory experience and nothing brings back the sensation of being a littl'un quite like the memory of watching my mother get dressed for a night out with my dad. I can hear the brush comb through her hair, feel the red velvet jacket and smell the chanel no 5. Its an almost unsettlingly powerful memory.
I wonder then, if the fact that many women turn to fashion as a means through which to 'understand their mothers' could in fact be read as our attempt to understand femininity in general. I think it might. T B C.