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20-02-2012
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Disappearing Trend : Elegant Women?
In this age of bare-it-all reality TV stars, are "elegant" women becoming a rare breed?
Yves Saint Laurent creative director Stefano Pilati thinks so, as he spills in a new interview with VICE.
Pilati says in part of the dialogue:
But seriously, it’s not easy to find elegant women. There are a few, the majority of whom are old – and there are one or maybe two in the world who created a new style when they were young. Today when I go to New York and survey art and fashion, I see smart women and the level is high. But there’s a difference between this and saying a woman is elegant.
Hmmm. Pilati further explains what he means by "elegance."
My idea of elegance – and this refers to women as well as men – is that someone is elegant when he or she shows a good knowledge of what fits them, where you can find naturalness and self-esteem. Not showing off. Elegance is the idea of showing an optimistic depiction of oneself, and to lose oneself in the frivolity of style and fashion. Nowadays nobody gives a **** about being elegant, or chic.
It's hard to argue with that.
But still, we can think of a few women out there who embody this standard of elegance; Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Michelle Williams and Kate Middleton, to name a few.
While it may be true that culture inundates us with examples of women (and men!) who have forsaken their own sense of style and taste for trends and "frivolity," we think we'd all do well to celebrate as role models those celebs who maintain a sense of refinement and grace. (huffingtonpost)
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what do you think? are elegant women really rare? on the other hand i am kinda grossed out about derek blasberg's books...the titles are:

Very Classy: Even More Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady

Very Classy: Be a Lady, Not a Tramp

Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady


do women/girls really need a weathy man to tell them they need to look rich, assume the mantle of another "breed" or "class" of people in order to look good?
i find the matter a bit offensive really.

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Last edited by lucy92; 20-02-2012 at 09:19 AM.
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20-02-2012
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Being his version of elegant sounds dull. Maybe women (and men) don't want to be his description.

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20-02-2012
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There is a difference in dressing elegant/classy like Michelle and Kate/Catherine and being it.

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20-02-2012
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I think his sense of what's elegant is an outdated opinion, the phrase 'Times Change, People Change' applies to this.

But I also detest when designers make statements like this, because they contradict their actions and the actions of the fashion industry.

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21-02-2012
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i have read the original interview and didn't find anything i don't agree with, really...

everyone is obviously free to dress as they choose, and most people really don't seem to care about being elegant or chic...
they want attention, or they want to show off...
but, no...i don't see a lot of elegant young women...
it is rare...

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21-02-2012
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I think what is at question here is what does elegance look like now?

It doesn't look like elegant people from the past, because people don't dress or style themselves that way anymore; if they do, it looks like role-playing.

I think elegance is a kind of composure, self-possession, dignity and grace, as well as wearing clothing well.

Quote:
someone is elegant when he or she shows a good knowledge of what fits them, where you can find naturalness and self-esteem.


Was Edie Sedgwick, in her youth, elegant? I think so.

I have seen punk rock girls (and boys) who were elegant.

If it means looking, dressing and acting like Audrey Hepburn, though, that ship has sailed.

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23-02-2012
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I understand what he means, most women that are elegant are also classy, a lot of reality TV stars are not this. Some of them dress quite tacky and trashy.

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24-02-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tangerine View Post
I think what is at question here is what does elegance look like now?

It doesn't look like elegant people from the past, because people don't dress or style themselves that way anymore; if they do, it looks like role-playing.

I think elegance is a kind of composure, self-possession, dignity and grace, as well as wearing clothing well.



Was Edie Sedgwick, in her youth, elegant? I think so.

I have seen punk rock girls (and boys) who were elegant.

If it means looking, dressing and acting like Audrey Hepburn, though, that ship has sailed.

[/COLOR][/LEFT]
I completely agree with you! I think when people say the word elegant often the first thought that comes to mind is Audrey Hepburn however like you said, elegance has changed. I am sure that there are some Audrey's still left in the world however now days I think elegance is more about having a sense of grace and understanding who you are. Thus it doesn't matter if you are wearing a punk outfit or a LBD just as long as you feel like yourself. To me that's true elegance. Because, there is nothing less elegant then someone trying to fit a style that isn't them.

Also, I'd like to point out that elegance has nothing to do with wealth. Money can't buy a person class. I have seen women who are as poor as church-mice but truly some of the most refined and classy people around. Whereas I have also seen women who are very wealthy and/or famous who lack elegance. So to me elegance come's from within rather then from external sources. Clothes can make a person appear more elegant but then again, if they look elegant, they probably already were before they put on that outfit.

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25-02-2012
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I agree. I think elegance is an inner quality reflected outwardly. Which requires a certain strength, maturity, wisdom and intelligence, awareness of self and the world. Which is in turn reflected in the outward qualities of composure, self-possession, dignity and grace, as Tangerine says. And enough self-humor and humility to play with fashion. That's why it is and always has been rarer for younger women/girls to be elegant...not impossible of course, but rarer. So it's silly for Pilati to be surprised that it's mostly older women who are elegant, and be surprised that the youth are less so. Deal with it.

In fact,
maybe this is the whole cause of the vicious cycle...if anything has changed, it's that older women are less respected these days than before in today's youth/looks-obsessed culture. Disrespect older women and discount their wisdom, you have a generation of young women fearing growing old, not looking up to mature, elegant women as role models, thus not developing elegance from an early age. Makes sense to me...

When I was a teenager I remember distinctly wanting wrinkles and a tired deep voice so I can be elegant like Jeanne Moreau or Francoise Sagan... I don't any more, but I've always wanted to be elegant inside. And as many have mentioined, the style of an elegant person may differ fashion-wise, but the qualities don't...whether it be a punk, a hippie, an aristocrat or politician. Audrey Hepburn is not elegant because of what she wore but because of her inner grace, strength and intelligence, and yes she is one of the rare people who had that in her youth. Same with Aung San Suu Kyi, Maya Angelou, and many other magnificent women.


Last edited by Melisande; 25-02-2012 at 08:56 AM.
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27-02-2012
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Elegant isn't just the clothes. It's the embodiment, the persona of a woman. Elegant can be quite subjective. My idea of an elegant woman is poised, and doesn't have to be ultra refined and feminine. More than likely she's confident but understand her flaws. For me, an elegant woman is usually older, not necessarily old. She either matured or have a better understanding of self or the world and self-assured. Younger woman are still discovering themselves and older woman been there, done that sort of speak.

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28-02-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melisande View Post
...

In fact,
maybe this is the whole cause of the vicious cycle...if anything has changed, it's that older women are less respected these days than before in today's youth/looks-obsessed culture. Disrespect older women and discount their wisdom, you have a generation of young women fearing growing old, not looking up to mature, elegant women as role models, thus not developing elegance from an early age. Makes sense to me...
Interesting idea. It seems true that today's culture (Western, anyway) is more youth-obsessed than ever, and no doubt a lot of young women shun any behavior that might make them seem "mature".

Still, I think that there are plenty of young women who, through nature or nurture, understand style and its relationship with the idea of self, and seek to reinvent elegance, even if they don't think of it that way. I think there are and always will be elegant women, young and otherwise. And they have always been rare individuals, I think. It's one thing to have "manners" (finishing school, anyone? ) and it's another to have a genuine unique elegance. As several of you have said, the latter requires an understanding of the self that is rarely granted in youth.

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01-03-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melisande View Post
I agree. I think elegance is an inner quality reflected outwardly. Which requires a certain strength, maturity, wisdom and intelligence, awareness of self and the world. Which is in turn reflected in the outward qualities of composure, self-possession, dignity and grace, as Tangerine says. And enough self-humor and humility to play with fashion. That's why it is and always has been rarer for younger women/girls to be elegant...not impossible of course, but rarer. So it's silly for Pilati to be surprised that it's mostly older women who are elegant, and be surprised that the youth are less so. Deal with it.

In fact,
maybe this is the whole cause of the vicious cycle...if anything has changed, it's that older women are less respected these days than before in today's youth/looks-obsessed culture. Disrespect older women and discount their wisdom, you have a generation of young women fearing growing old, not looking up to mature, elegant women as role models, thus not developing elegance from an early age. Makes sense to me...

When I was a teenager I remember distinctly wanting wrinkles and a tired deep voice so I can be elegant like Jeanne Moreau or Francoise Sagan... I don't any more, but I've always wanted to be elegant inside. And as many have mentioined, the style of an elegant person may differ fashion-wise, but the qualities don't...whether it be a punk, a hippie, an aristocrat or politician. Audrey Hepburn is not elegant because of what she wore but because of her inner grace, strength and intelligence, and yes she is one of the rare people who had that in her youth. Same with Aung San Suu Kyi, Maya Angelou, and many other magnificent women.
I agree with everything you said! Especially the fact that young women are afraid to grow old and the media representing the image that a woman isn't desireable anymore after a certain age. Also the fact that young women these days are more interested in being part of the "in-crowd" which is often marked by excess and disrespect.

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01-03-2012
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Yes, luisa, as you say, desire and elegance and maturity and intelligence are NOT mutually exclusive as we are told by the idiotic media. It's very sad when older women, smart women, elegant women, independent women, and strong women feel pressured to seem younger, immature, and unintelligent to be desirable, which is simply not even true.

Recently in France we heard about a depressed 80-something year old widow who wanted to die, and her nurse recommended finding a boyfriend to regain her health and happiness. The woman was astounded but followed her nurse's advice and joined an online dating site, and was shocked to find that all the men she met desired her with NO LESS PASSION than when she was 20, pursuing her and asking excitedly "so when can we have sex?" Now she found a boyfriend, she looks radiant and gorgeous, wants to live to a hundred, and feels like she is 20. Anyway, this to say that you can be elegant and mature and intelligent and independent and strong and 80 years old, and still be desired no less. My 71 year old teacher also is pursued by numerous young men...she is deeply elegant, successful, smart, charming and disarmingly coquettish ♥

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02-03-2012
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interesting topic.

I agree in almost everything. Only one thing, I don't think elegance is matter of age. Some young girls are very elegant, as an example, Charlotte Casiraghi at her teenage years... now, she has lost part of that allure... but before, despite being probably less cultivated and experimented than now, she was very elegant in her manners and attitude.

Dressing chic and classy is very different from being elegant.

Regarding Pilatti's comments about old times, I would like to point out that before certain "rude" behaviours and gestures were not allowed in public/were not well-seen, whereas today that stiffness has wound down.

And to finish, I think elegance is, as beauty, subjective... probably, there's people that think a character from Jersey Shore is elegant... and for me they are the antithesis of that.

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02-03-2012
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Interesting thread. When I think elegance Diana Vreeland comes to mind, and not for her quotes, but because she is the person that defines elegance to me. At any stage in her life she was fantastically elegant.

As far as the easily discernible objective measures of elegance - long neck, long limbs, coordinated movements, reasonably proportioned outfits....that's something I don't think has gone out of style except in Jersey, Miami, LA and high school. However, as far as elegance as an idiosyncratic expression of internal processes - elegance is pretty much gone.

Definitely, the fixation on youth is part of this. Also, I think it's the fixation on the physique that makes it impossible for people to appreciate elegance. We've discussed it before but I think, in some ways, it's a logical progression since the 60s....with free love, no bras and little clothes....and women newcomers in the work force, while we retained the mainly monogamous society, it only makes sense that we all had to objectify and trivialize the allure of beauty. How did we do that? By turning the exposed flesh into a veneer that needed to be criticized and perfected. The idealized female flesh was within two decades turned into inches and pounds, pores and wrinkles - things to be concerned about, things that could never be perfect enough, ready to be criticized and weighted into the complex functions that generates a person's social status.

It's not really strange that innate elegance became less important in this context.

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