“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility,
and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do,
without the help and support of the woman I love.”
–King Edward VIII, from his famous abdication speech of 1936.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (AKA Wallis Simpson)— arguably one of the most controversial, talked about couples of the 20th century. Their affair started while she was still married to her 2nd husband Ernest Simpson– a wealthy Englishman, through whom she gained access to British high society. The two were introduced at a London social event, and soon she was a frequent guest at Prince Edward’s country getaway, Fort Belvedere.
In January of 1936, Edward was crowned the British Monarch upon the death of King George V. He, however, had no interest in being king. Edward’s focus was solely on marrying Wallis Simpson– the rags-to-riches American commoner who had somehow seduced the now King of England. Many wondered aloud, what could he possibly see in her? Give up the throne for– what? Apparently it wasn’t the sex. She’s credited with icily stating, “No man is allowed to touch me below the Mason-Dixon line.” There were also ugly and persistent rumors challenging her own physical endowments as a lady. Shady, unsubstantiated stories surfaced that Wallis Simpson was born a man, and suffered from Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome— a hormonal irregularity that causes a genetic male’s body to develop as a woman, but without fully developed, err, privates. Just the the kind of story any gal would love to be the subject of.
And then there were the stories of her affairs, Nazi sympathizing, and shopping.
Over the years, an obvious continental divide has existed in menswear between American, English & Italian style– but is it rapidly shrinking? Is global fashion largely replacing long-standing traditional dressing and style? Not all of it is intentional either. It’s also that a lot of guys just don’t know or care. How many fathers teach their sons how to dress properly? I think it’s safe to say that those conversations aren’t happening anymore. The home-fires seem to be burning out, as more and more guys are being swallowed up by the– shirt always untucked, nothing fits, nothing matters, can’t even stand up straight, I’m lucky to have even got out of the house dressed, square-toed shoe wearing, bad style fog.
The world is getting smaller everyday, that’s just a fact we have to live with. Fashion & media influences now move at break-neck speed, and it seems like a lot of cultural flavor & integrity is in danger of getting lost, as we all seem to be moving largely in the same direction. More than ever, product is finding it’s way into brands where it doesn’t belong– even classic brands that in the past were very diligent in regard to their positioning, are getting loose. Ironically, even a lot of the “brand heritage” reissues that are all the rage, seem to reflect today’s fashion interpretation of heritage, rather than actual history itself– because “heritage” is a buzz word that sells right now.
In short, product homogenization and co-opting is openly happening worldwide, and at an alarming rate. I’m not saying it’s all bad– a healthy chunk of classic American style that we know and love today was actually borrowed from somewhere else. The Japanese in turn have swallowed up American and English style (and are moving on to the Italians). American hipsters are looking at the Japanese for how to look, well, American. Not surprising– the Japanese are good at taking our toys and making them better. The whole thing is getting a little too convoluted these days for my taste.
Everything is moving so fast– how much thought is being given to the long-term? –By anyone?
Brands need to mind the shop, not just the register– or we’re going to end up with a big, tasteless stew.