Fashion Book: The Color Master
If you are a regular reader, you will have already seen that I did an interview with Aimee Bender for the Ploughshares blog last week. As part of the interview, I also wrote a brief review in which I basically say, yes. This book is pure Aimee Bender at her best, and if you like her, go and read it.
One of the things that struck me about the stories in this collection was the importance of items of clothing. Bender often elevates what may seem mundane in her stories, but her use of jewelry and garments in particular is striking. I think that most people discredit clothing and fashion as silly, vain, and without substance, but Bender acknowledges the significance of the choices we make about what we wear and how we wear it. It’s a huge marker in how we appear to other people, and also what we think about ourselves. In that way, it’s a great way to add texture to characters and give the reader another window into their souls.
In the title story, “The Color Master,” a young woman becomes the reluctant protege of the Color Master, an old woman who possesses the ability to make garments in the exact hue of things that occur in nature, such as the sky or the ocean. She is also able to imbue these impossibly beautiful garments with emotions. She teaches her young apprentice everything she knows before she passes away, leaving the younger woman feeling overwhelmed by her newfound powers.
While I know it’s not possible in real life to render clothing in the exact colors of nature, I sometimes feel that our designers get it pretty close. Some of the gowns I’ve seen on the runway are breathtaking. I wanted to showcase a few standouts that remind me of specific natural elements, and the royal gowns created in this story.
The first buds of spring: Oscar de la Renta, Spring 2014
The ocean on the French Riviera: Tracy Reese, Spring 2014
Pine Trees in Winter: Elie Saab, Fall 2013
Blue sky in Spring: Temperley London, Spring 2013
Midnight sky over Alaska: Carolina Herrera, Pre-Fall 2013
Peacock Feathers: Diane von Furstenberg
Fresh green grass: Charles Jordan, 1954