I saw so many wonderful prints and colors in Florence. And loved the Gucci Gardens exhibition with the extra-ordinary vivid beauty of the setting. But am saving that for another story. Something else stands out in my mind as I sit down to write, with reflective distance back in Berlin. It is a glorious tone-in tone-black outfit I saw on an elegant 75 (my guess) year old woman walking down a rainy pastel coloured street. Her casual modern sophistication fascinated me. In this beautiful old city, with patina pastel layers of texture, there she was a creative vision of texture and patina in black.
: the process or result of becoming cultured, knowledgeable
: the process or result of becoming more complex, developed, or subtle
:relating to, or having the characteristics of the present or most recent period of development of a language
relaxed and calm in a way that shows that you do not care or are not worried about anything
I discovered that our current sense of sophisticated, meaning refined, cultured or highly developed is surprisingly recent. Applying the word to people who are experienced and refined can only be dated to 1895, when it appears in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure: "Though so sophisticated in many things she was such a child in others that this satisfied her."
The adjective comes from the verb to sophisticate, meaning to mix with a foreign substance, dated to around 1400 when it appears in a version of The Book of John Mandeville "It fallez oft tyme þat marchands sophisticatez peper." (It happens oftentimes that merchants sophisticate pepper.) Sophisticated expresses the sense of altered from a natural state. Something that is cultured or refined has been altered from its original form. This new altered state is made up of many substances and becomes complex.
What I loved about her outfit is how she altered the idea of a business suit to fit her needs. I imagine her to be an architect and he an intern she was taking to meet a new client. Or maybe her grandson and she was taking him to quality time lunch. What ever her story, I was impressed by the sophisticated wisdom of her choices. And the casualness that allowed for a casually intimate atmosphere.
The Creative Artistry
The Sophisticated Foundation
whisper to your
your style language"
I could have asked her for a photo but sensed a special intimacy was in progress so didn't interrupt. And anyway, often find that remembering outfits reveals more. Re-visiting the outfit in my imagination reveals fragments of ideas. When you delve into them creative elements begin whispering to you. Uncovering the visual tension that excites you. for me it was:
1. the contrast between the basic norm core beanie she was wearing paired with the (hopefully) fake mink cross body bag. I used the present tense 'love' because this outfit is so clear in my mind. I believe that with more training our imagination grows, that there is great power in carrying a notebook and jotting down ides. to connect the dots of all those fragments that make up our creative style language.
2. the modern femininity of her silver blond glasses and how they matched and highlighted her silver grey hair. That same color I adored in wall frescoes was brought to life on her.
3. her silky slouchy track pants with side braid trim paired with the structure of the jacket.
All letting me know that at 75+ creating tension and sophistication is still a joy. And that when we creatively express ourselves through wardrobe....we can be a (secret) encouragement to those around us.
Have you been inspired by anyone lately?