of our ruling politicians subverting the institutions of state and our language to their vile, petty, self-aggrandizing ends…….
until, at length, my mind turned to the other meaning of ‘ruffled‘.
A turning from negative emotion to the experience of something of beauty which I learned at school.
It began with the many punitive detentions (for what I considered specious reasons) in which I was required to learn poetry by heart and then declaim it faultlessly to my punishers sitting as judge, jury and executioners.
An exercise from which I learned that man-made outrages (but not, unfortunately, the catastrophes of Fate), can be transmuted into the experience of beauty:
with more poems,
with perfume (notably my favourite, Calèche);
with the richness of worked fabrics:
American ribbonwork, 1930;
Philadelphia Quaker lace (machine-made), before 1950
with the myriad, wondrous forms of the natural world.
The chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly
(I am unsure what the source of this image is. It was sent to me by the Woman Who Posts Poems on her Door in Philadelphia)
and with museums;
Detail of upholstery of a sofa: green plainwoven watered (moire) silk with pink satin weave stripes edged with a line of white. European between 1770 and 1810,
repositories of uncounted numbers of the beautiful objects of Sapiens’ creative adaptation to the human condition.
A psychological trick – this conversion of the outrageous wickedness of human action
into the experience of beauty:
Ruffled roses at NY Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY
a conversion as mysterious to me as when, a child, my frustration with undeserved – as far as I was concerned – punishment was lifted away by the sound of Shakespeare coming out of my mouth and filling my mind with pleasure and consolation.
And so from the maddening nonsense of our politics to
the ruffling of ruffs….
until I get ruffled again by the next wicked political escalation.
A curious article of clothing was the original neck ruff: the quality of the fabrics used are very fine and the techniques of its manufacture and embellishment are dazzling.
And always a sign of status because of the time involved in its manufacture, not to speak of its maintenance.
The real ruff, Philomachus Pugnax, a sandpiper whose stamping grounds extend from northern Eurasia to southern and western Europe, southern Asia, Africa and Australia.
Sapiens, in customary excess, now has the ruff running all over the body of the female of his species.
A curiosity still because it constrains movement.
But fabulous in its insouciance, its theatricality, its excessiveness and exuberance.
Marc Jacobs, 2020 ,Haute Couture, New York.
Photo for the NY Times by Nina Westervelt, September 2019
Let’s just say it: gorgeous!
Portrait of a Man and detail, 1632, oil on wood. Rembrandt, 1609-1669, Dutch. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Junya Watanabe, Fall/Winter couture, 2000
A ruff which seems to have arrived from outer space to land haphazardly like a harpoon.
Portrait of a Gentleman in a Fancy Ruff, oil on copper, 1627. Thomas de Keyser, 1596/7 – 1667. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Giambattista Valli, Italian, Fall 2014 , Haute Couture, with one of his many signature ruffled skirts
Portrait of a Gentleman, and detail, c. 1615, oil on panel. Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, Flemish. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Jun Takahashi, Japanese, born 1969, couture for Undercover, Fashion Week, March 2017, Paris.
Herman Doomer and detail, oil on wood, 1640. Rembrandt, 1606-1669, Dutch. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Jean Paul Gaultier Autumn 2016, Haute Couture.
Ruff gone to the hips.
Portrait of a Man with a Ruff, 1625, oil on canvas. Frans Hals, 1582/3-1666, Dutch. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Jean Paul Gaultier, French, born 1952, Autumn 2016 couture.
Ruff gone to the head.
Mara Theresa, Infanta of Spain (1638-1683), oil on canvas, 1651-4. Velazquez, 1599-1660, Spanish. Metropolitan Museum, NY.
Half ruffs in the royal coiffure
A member of the Hispanic community of the greater Philadelphia area marking her 15th birthday (fiesta de quince años ) with photographs in the conservatory of Longwood Gardens, April 2017
Portrait of a Woman, probably a member of the Van Beresteyn family, and detail, 1632, oil on canvas. Rembrandt, 1606-1669, Dutch. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Gianbattista Valli, Italian, born 1966. 2016 Haute Couture.
Portrait of a Woman said to be Madame Charles Simon Favart, 1727-1772; oil on canvas, 1757. Francois Robert Drouais, 1727-1775, French. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Roberto Capucci, Italian, born 1930. Couture of unknown date
Dancers, 1906, ink on paper. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1880-1938. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY
Tight Rope Walker, oil on canvas, 1885. Jean-Louis Forain, 1852-1931, French. The Art Institute of Chicago on loan to the Metropolitan Museum, NY winter/spring 2016-17
Girl in a Red Ruff, 1884, oil on canvas. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919, French. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Valentino, Italian born 1932; Haute Couture 2019-2020, Paris
Portrait of a Man, Possibly an Architect or a Geographer, oil on copper, 1597.
Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, Flemish
An exquisite little painting, 18 inches tall. Metropolitan Museum, NY
Gareth Pugh, British, born 1981; Spring 2009 couture, Paris
Portrait of the Countess of Tournon, 1812, oil on canvas. Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres, 1780-1867, French. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dress, spring/summer, 2011 by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Black silk organza with orange feathers painted with black and white pigment.
On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015
Issey Miyake, 1993 (recreated 2016). ‘Pleats Please’. Machine sewn polyester plain weave, machine garment pleated in paper.
Ruffs stretched to the full body and wired.
Marchese Brigida Spinola Doria, oil on canvas, 1606. Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, Flemish. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Molly Goddard, British fashion designer, born 1988. March 2017, Haute Couture, Paris
The Ermine Portrait of Elizabeth I, 1585, oil on canvas. Nicholas Hilliard, 1547-1619, English. Hatfield House, England
The Queen of ruffs
Lanvin-Castillo. Lanvin (the company founded by Jeanne Lanvin, died 1946), French, active 1950-1962. Antonio del Castillo, 1908-1984, Spanish. Evening dress, 1956, of light purple, nylon tulle. Metropolitan Museum of Art on display in the summer of 2016
Ruff to the tail
Gianbatistta Valli, Italian born 1966. Winter/Spring, 2016/2017 haute couture
Charles I, 1600-1649, King of England, 1629, oil on canvas. Daniel Mijtens, 1590-1647, Dutch. Metropolitan Museum, NY
Deruffed by the Roundheads and their allies in 1649 for bringing disorder and chaos to the realm.