Garbo! Garbo! Garbo! It’s three o’clock in the morning and I’m watching a Greta Garbo marathon on TCM – three different documentaries and a handful of movies that didn’t make it into the box set. I’m in absolute HEAVEN.
In The Painted Veil she is in China during the cholera epidemic, wafting about in FABULOUS Adrian gowns while people gasp and wheeze and drop like flies all around her. It’s TOO FANTASTIC.
Now, in every Garbo movie, of course, you have to sit through a lot of glorious claptrap to get to that ONE BIG MOMENT that jolts you out of your seat and makes you realize what a great artist she really was. The death scene in Camille, for example, where you can actually pinpoint her last breath and SWEAR you see the soul leave her body. Or the end of Queen Christina when she is staring out over the bow of the ship and even though her face is a frozen mask and not a muscle twitches, you can see the entire panoply of human emotions play out in her eyes. OH! OH! Or that fabulous scene in Mata Hari when she cruelly forces her young lover to blow out the candle on his mother’s icon, thereby renouncing his faith and his family for her. IF YOU DONT KNOW ANY OF THESE SCENES, IT’S TIME TO GET THE NEW GARBO BOX SET AND CATCH UP. Then maybe I’ll acknowlege you at the Roosevelt.
Anyway. So I’m waiting for that big moment in The Painted Veil, and when it comes it’s not exactly a universally life-changing moment that everyone will get – it was more of a PERSONAL FASHION MOMENT. She’s eating alone – AGAIN – because her husband, Herbert Marshall, spends more time with the sickies than he dooes with her. And she’s BORED. Bored out of her gourd. And she’s wearing this fabulous white-on-white Greco-Mandarin gown, just sipping her broth in that forsaken, inconsolable way she has, when she notices a parade passing by her front door. Well, she LEAPS up, RUNS to her hat stand (of course) and TOSSES on a white, bejeweled turban, the way you or I might throw on a baseball cap (except that I’ve never owned a baseball cap in my LIFE!)
Anyway, the moment was just so spectacular that I began to hyperventilate. The ease and grace with which she wrapped it, the way her hands so nimbly twisted it up, and how unbelievably elegant she looked doing it! I thought to myself: YES! TURBANS! TURBANS FOR WINTER! Like Garbo! Like Hadji on JOHNNY QUEST! It’s TOO DIVINE! And how refreshing after all the ruffles and bows and frou-frou of the past couple of years. Yes! I’m thinking MINIMALISM – stark lines, severe silhouettes, and crisp clean looks. WITH TURBANS!!!!
I called my comrade-in-arms, Eva Posey, and whispered, “One word: turbans!”
“Oh, I’m way ahead of you,” she replied. “I’ve been on eBay all week looking for vintage turbans.” Thereby letting me know it was a great fashion idea that was already in the air, and not more of my K-induced nuttiness, like couture clown noses or humpbacks sewn into ballgowns.
– James St. James