Tuesday, August 30, 2016

style series inspiration // women who wear (& write) -- 'dorothy parker'

I'd heard her name --

DOROTHY PARKER 

--it's safe to say that some professor threw her name into a conversation
or explanation along with other great American literary names.


Dorothy is from the 1920s. For quite some time
I was more keen on praising the work of the expats -- such as Hemingway and Gertrude Stein residing in Paris. Or Ezra Pound. And, let's not forget Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I admired the things I read about them, whether it be their devotion to art, their decisions to live abroad, and the barriers that their work came up against. 

It wasn't until nearly two years ago, when I enrolled in a southern literature class --
that I would come to love literature written by Americans who
actually wrote on American soil. Aesthetically, Dorothy cannot necessarily be thrown in with the likes of Faulkner, McCarthy, Morrison, O'Connor or even Chopin...

She was just as much a woman as Tony, Flannery and Kate--just as much a feminist--but her work and her story came from an entirely different place and angle, I'd say.
I suppose it's the diversity of literature that is a close second to being as great as what literature actually is and gives to audiences and cultures. 

Diversity of the writers is what contributes to a diversity of content, which is why for this post I have decided to talk about a writer who lived during a time when working for a fashion magazine was nothing like what can be seen on The September Issue


Parker was a writerly woman (though first and foremost a strong, wise woman) who took part in the infamous Algonquin Round Table -- or, "the vicious circle". In a short synopsis of who she was, Parker is described as so:

"Vanity Fair dramatic critic, New York Critic. Celebrated poet, short-story writer, playwright. Wrote Hollywood screenplays. Champion for social justice."

Not to mention, it's no secret that she was blacklisted. 

(SIDE NOTE -- nowadays, to be blacklisted is a wondrous thing. It can often serve as an indication of some sort of future success. It's an accomplishment I would pass out over if I ever was chosen.)


+++

In my past two posts I have had the wonderful ability to focus in on 'street style' backed by a plethora of photos available to me via the Internet (thank you, Google, Pinterest and the paparazzi of this era in time). Dorothy existed well before these prevalent aspects of popular culture, so I cannot write about her street style or show many photos. I also don't want this post to be grounded in my personal inferences in regards to her style. 

Rather, I'd like to use Dorothy as an example of how 'style' can mean something other than just the clothing one puts on his/her back. As with any artist (or even human being), Dorothy was known for a specific style.

After reading through her quotes and some of her poetry, and after scanning through interviews with and assessments of Parker, what I can conclude is that Dorothy is remembered for the style her razor sharp wit carved for her.

She was honest and thoughtful about the things she spoke about.
In fact, some of her quotes are so brutally blatant that I couldn't help but laugh at the discomfort
they might have stirred given the context she might have said/written them in.

Again, I don't want to make inferences here, especially since I still know so little about her, but what I do want to say is that she wrote for the likes of Vogue and Vanity Fair for a reason, even if times have changed in the world of fashion.

Obviously someone believed that she had things to say and thus good content to produce.

I've thought about her words for a week now -- how they make me perceive her, and what the image as being a quick witted woman might have made her feel. In an interview with The Paris Review, Parker expresses regret over the public's reaction to her wit and how wit--especially when it comes to women--can easily be cheapened and become, perhaps, somewhat degrading, as if women must be a certain sort of funny to be taken seriously. Yet, she remains unapologetic even in the midst of disapproving the public's perception of herself.

And, I like that.

I can appreciate that Parker was known as a critic because even to this day it takes courage to go against the grain and stand for something different. It takes courage to be a critic, because to be a critic means to stand for something different. And to be a critic means that one must own his or her own faults so as not to be come a hypocrite.

I can't imagine the obstacles Parker might have faced when it came to being a woman trying to make a name for herself at a time when women were expected to be housewives (this poem gives some insight into her expression of domestication). What I can imagine is how difficult it is to make it as a writer. What I also can't imagine is trying to make it as a writer appreciated for a voice that the public just doesn't seem equipped or willing to understand.

Yet, Parker is remembered and her wit is remembered.

And, it's important to know that women have maintained a certain style of ballsiness and individualism for quite some time now.

For myself, I am daily lost in wondering who I am -- not just as a person, but especially as a writer. I have very honest things to say -- some big things and some small, and I say that I won't apologize but I mostly say so to convince myself.

I believe that--on a lighter and more fashion-forward note--personal style in regards to clothing should be handled with the same type of courage, individualism, strength, vulnerability and experimentation that comes with being blatantly honest in a verbal sense.

It is important to stand behind one's own self expression, not just one's own words and beliefs.

I have no pictures of how Parker carried herself with fashion choices, but I'd like to believe that she dressed for the times, but more importantly for herself -- and that honesty with clothing is what contributed to her success as a critic for the magazines, and vice-versa...

To back my hopes up, here's what Harper's Bazaar had to say:

"Full of just the right amount of wit and snark, the ultra-quotable Dorothy Parker had a love for a windswept fringe, floral prints and big hats. She was involved with everything from screenwriting to criticism and satire and her politics landed her on Hollywood's blacklist. Pearls and Mary Janes were her wardrobe staples."

Pearls and Mary Janes?

Fringe and big hats?

Criticism, wit, blacklisted, and notable?

Sounds like my kind of girl.


-M

p.s. This post signifies my pursuit of a diversity of content -- not necessarily for those who are reading, but also for myself. I knew little if anything about Dorothy-- save for her name being thrown with others (as I mentioned prior)--so, to write even an inkling about her without consulting a source would have proven to be a flat out lie. What information I do cite, know that I in no way claim it as my own. I'm simply relaying information for curiosity and learning's sake. Thanks!

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