Saturday, May 12, 2012

What Goes Around

(marble bust of Mary Robinson by David d'Angers, 1824)

Nearly fifteen years after I first read about the sprawling concrete museum at the top of a hill, vowing I would visit and anticipating the six-hour journey down, the ritualistic tram ride up, I finally found myself at the Getty, under circumstances entirely unanticipated but filled with that sense of deja vu that strikes me when it's warm with a light, cool breeze; when early evening holds on tight to that last, sumptuous light of day; and when architecture, sky, land, and water come together harmoniously to inspire and reassure. It might be awe, love, reverence, illumination, joy...maybe all of the above. Whatever it is, it makes me hyper aware of the present while vaguely recalling memories or imaginations of the past.

Fifteen years--studies and travels, marriage and children, love and heartbreak, sickness and health, dissolution and resurrection--how quick the passage of time. At nineteen, "thirty-something" sounded eons away. At nineteen, who would have guessed that life could possibly ever do anything so mundane as to get in the way? But here I was, finally, for the first time, nearly fifteen years later, at the monumental Getty Center, with company that was new yet strangely and exceptionally familiar. Despite change, some things stoically and reassuringly stay the same, and we occasionally find ourselves reawakened to a part of us that has never really gone away.


What I'm getting at really is a roundabout intro to discussing fashion's revival of the updo. Gorgeously carved into marble almost two centuries ago by Pierre-Jean David d'Angers are the likenesses of Ann Buchan Robinson and her daughter Mary, both sporting breathtaking updos that, according to the Getty's accompanying object labels (and not off the top of my head--absolutely no pun intended), demonstrate the stylized refinement common to early-nineteenth-century Neoclassical art.

And today, when the trend is full-force long, wavy locks or sleek, ironed straightness (my own locks are at their very lengthiest, unruliest, and, admittedly, all-too-often subjected to a scorching hot iron) some of us would like to go against the stream and bring back the elegant least in an ironic, early-twenty-first century Postmodern sort of way.... W just recently wrote about the phenomenon here. I'm all for it. In fact, what better way to get that long, unruly hair out of my face but to put it into a strategically (or, in my case, an inevitably) tousled topknot?

(bust of Ann Buchan Robinson, 1831)

I loved coming across this mother and daughter sculptural duo. As Mother's Day approaches and I think about my own daughter's lovely hair (it is soft and silky and the polar opposite of mine), and this day two centuries ago, and this day another century from now...I am reminded of my six-year-old's preoccupation and coming to terms with the cycle of life and death and my own view of the cyclical nature of life and emotions and fashion. In an effort to comfort my daughter, I liken the end of life to roses wilting and making way for baby rosebuds. But I realize I've only been painting part of the picture, entirely neglecting to acknowledge the decomposing petals, the roots, the particles of water mixing with the air, sun, and dirt. Like roses, like topknots, like the sentiments of our nineteen-year-old selves, everything comes back eventually. Or perhaps nothing ever entirely goes away, instead waiting for the right moment to resurface.

I feel I could launch into a pseudo-serious lecture about our perceptions of good karma and justice and bad karma and blame, and how that all relates to the current state of my life and, of course, to fashion, but that's a topic for another post.... For now, let's just leave it at the cyclical (figure "8" even!) nature of The Hair Bow, courtesy of the talented ladies at Vena Cava.