By Linda Wallace

Author's thoughts on the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fashion Conclusion

I attended Macy’s Better with Time fashion show this morning. The one where I was not picked to be one of the models. In the first two blogs I posted in August, I wrote about competing in the modeling contest. Today, I wanted to see how well the women who beat me performed.

I might not have made it to Macy’s downtown Seattle store on time if I hadn’t noticed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the Alaskan Way Viaduct was going to be closed for a Heart Walk fundraiser sponsored by the American Heart Association. When I read the article, I felt a pang of guilt for enjoying the frivolity of fashion when I could be joining the 10,000 participants expected at the fundraiser. Then at Macy’s, I was confronted by larger-than-life posters of breast cancer survivors in the windows. Good causes abound, but today was for fun.

Inside the store, the runway was surrounded by dozens of tables where hundreds of attendees were being served a sit-down brunch. I hadn’t expected so many people. Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t get to be a model after all. You can bet there were some serious cases of nerves backstage.

At 10:30 a.m., Terry Ahern, Macy’s Fashion Producer, introduced our MC, Micki Flowers. The program started off with a shot of culture to offset the unavoidable triviality of fads and fashion. Mary Ann Gwinn, The Seattle Times Book Editor, presented her "Top Picks for Fall Reading." I was happy that she included some of my favorites such as The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. When she asked for a show-of-hands of how many of the audience had read the series, a gratifying number of arms were raised. Many of my fellow authors mistrust and resent book reviewers, but I don’t feel that way. I see no reason for a reviewer to say they like a book when they don’t, and even when they can’t praise your writing, they’re still bringing it to the attention of potential readers. You can see what a few reviewers have said about my books on my Web site,

Then Regina Hackett, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Art Critic, talked about "Pluralism and Northwest Art." She said artists should follow the philosophy, "You see a rule, knock it down."

The last presentation before the fashion show started was a demonstration of Shiseido’s five-minute facial. Shiseido rep Casey Jaeger said all of the Better with Time models had a facial before they donned their stage makeup.

Finally, sound the horns, bang the drums, the regular-people, fifty-or-older models pranced down the runway, wearing nifty clothes and brave smiles. They did a great job; they all were truly winners. My only regret was that I had brought my camera. I would have enjoyed the fashion parade much more if I had concentrated on simply watching the models instead of trying to photograph them. Recently on NPR, I heard Annie Leibovitz say during an interview about her latest book, A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005, that taking photos of her family and friends could be troublesome. She didn’t necessarily always want to record family events because the camera had a way of taking over. If a camera changes the nature of an occasion for a superb expert like Leibovitz, of course it would for a bumbling amateur like me.

But I did take pictures, so I posted a few of them for you. The bottom shot is of Jeanne Joseph, age 65. In the essay required for the preliminary competition, Jeanne quoted actress Billie Burke, "Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless your are a cheese." Jeanne could be on one of the posters in Macy’s window. She is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed when she was 55.

The middle photo is of Henrietta Feinberg, age 93. Amazing, huh? She was born in 1913 in Metz, France, and came to the United States through Ellis Island in 1922. She started dancing when she was seven, taking ballet in Texas and at the Shehe Dancing School in the south side of Chicago. She traveled with a dance company from Portland, Maine, to the world’s fair in Dallas, using the stage name Henie Hagen.

The top picture is of Nadine Madison, age 70. Do you think these ladies are lying about their age? Only instead of subtracting a few years, they’re adding a decade or two. When she was 50, she left her job as an English teacher and opened a Sylvan Learning Center on Queen Anne in Seattle. Now, she says in her essay, "I still love clothes and parties, I’m more inclined to say what I think, and I’m no longer evasive about my age. I savor being 70."

I’d like to tell you about all of the fifteen models. They’re all fascinating women, but it would take too long. Instead, I’m only highlighting the three I managed to get an in-focus picture of without chopping off their heads or zooming in on their backsides. I have to say, after watching the fashion contest winners walk the runway and reading their essays, I don’t need to feel bad about being bested by any of them.


At 8:35 AM, Blogger EilisFlynn said...

That sounds like it was wonderful, Linda! And it sounds like you had a good time to boot.


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