I spent part of a morning that began at 4am with a nightmare faculty meeting, sciatica and, after a flounce at the library sofa, Lutyens... continued about 5 with the Celt and coffee... a morning which, frankly, not involving one jot of intellectual activity, has been very agreeable, chatting about life, love, happiness and decorating, with friends, one of whom is on her last bout of chemo and is, thankfully, doing brilliantly well. I've watched a cloud form what looked like a funnel, wondered why one of the box trees, the Celt's pride, has gone the color of nicotine - actually, I know why and but I resist the idea (it's dead). Huffily, for a few minutes, I ignored the buzzer of the dryer - only towels, not shirts - and now, for the last time today, I sit down at the dining table looking at my MacBook and wondering what to write.
I'm surrounded by an accretion of stuff I've created since I got back - a magazine, a second computer retrieved from the boot of the car where it had thumped around for a month or three, a book about Lutyens (not the one I began the day with), a rolled-up Post-It note, a large white empty envelope and a clear plastic folder that neither of us, seemingly, know anything about. Luckily, there is room for the Manhattan I shall shortly make for myself - inoculation, you understand, for the second I shall have before dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant - a box containing a beautiful shirt, slim fit, all Egyptian cotton, made in Italy, of alternating blue and black stripes on a white ground. It will hang next to the blue and grey stripe on a white ground, non-iron, regular fit, all Egyptian cotton, made in Malaysia, French-cuffed shirt - and it will hang there the longer for being non-iron.
I have flirted with non-iron shirts over the last few years, and having watched favorite shirts (any shirt with or of blue is a favorite) rapidly deteriorate after a year and actually start fraying, ripping and shredding by the second year. The Celt's shirts, none of which are non-iron, all go to the laundry, mine go to the dryer and for a while come back out looking fabulously well-ironed.
Those days are over. You could say I have a bad case of brand loyalty - I shop at one men's outfitters almost exclusively. I hate shopping for clothes and until now have preferred the one-stop-buy-all routine I've followed for years - the man who sells me my shirts sold me my first when I moved here seventeen years ago. But if I am to stop wasting money, stop wasting resources, I must stop buying the non-iron shirts I elected to think such a boon for the last few years and, maybe more importantly, keep all the favorites, the beloved blue shirts, for a long time to come - just for the beauty of them.
Just for the beauty of it, photo by Paul Warhol, of the Madonna di San Biagio (1518) in Montepulciano by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, to accompany text written by Dan Hofstader for Connoisseur, October 1990.
An interior design history enthusiast and in my own way an erstwhile chronicler of those I call the Lost Generation - those men, some of them gay and many of whom died of AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, and who are to a great degree forgotten.