Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Chap: Palm Beach

The following is an excerpt from my article on the Palm Beach style for the Chap Magazine's October/November 2011 issue:

...While on assignment in Palm Beach for LIFE Magazine in 1958, French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, reporting on a high-society charity ball, said “They have the poise to appear like this. They can wear fancy dress and feel natural.” 
The comment is more complimentary of the matrons of Florida’s foremost luxury resort than any one of Mr. Cartier-Bresson’s photographs is. There isn’t a smile to be seen in any of the snapshots, despite captions describing drooling poolside octogenarians as enjoying themselves or making the dubious claim that the sour-faced woman on the aptly-named shopping boulevard Worth Street is actually waiting for something as human as a friend. If the sequin-and-feathered women in the photograph of the charity ball are at their most natural, then they must be made of igneous rock.
Palm Beach has been a playboy’s (or, indeed, playgirl’s) paradise for over 100 years now. The resort’s fashions, as Cartier-Bresson suggests, have always been loud enough to demand a certain muted bearing from their owners. Brash color has been the basis of the Palm Beach look for much of its existence. The men wear trousers of flamingo pink, chartreuse, or lime green, suit jackets of fire-engine red and safety orange, and velvet slippers with embroidered toes. The wives keep chromatic pace in near-neon leggings and light blouses, necks ringed with the most arresting Hermes, Charvet, and Pucci scarves. The mistresses wear bikinis, if anything, and the children, like the help, are considered best unseen... 

No comments:

Post a Comment