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Man-Up For A Museum Exhibit of Italian Fashion.



How often does this happen:

The local art museum, in this case the Portland Art Museum, puts on a fashion show in their exhibit halls.

Since it’s Italian fashion it’s all gowns, one of a kind outfits, and tricky shoes.

Eventually you see ready to wear pieces you’d wear if you could afford Italian designs.

That’s the show. Either you or your partner want to see it. Need to see it. Most of the time one wants to see fashion more than the other.

Sunday was museum day. I was an easy sell. But what to wear?

What’s wrong with Nikes and a hoodie? Nothing, but why head in looking so ordinary in Portland. Keep it weird, remember?

I fashioned up with black jeans, t-shirt, and shoes. A study in shadow.

My wife went from Nikes and a hoodie to a very fashionable outfit that included high heeled boots, layers of subtle color, and a black leather jacket.

She could’ve walked into the exhibit and turned into a mannequin and no one would have noticed.

She could’ve strutted the catwalk or sat in the front row in high style. Since my mother in law always dresses in continental fashion she was set from the beginning.

But what about the rest of Portland? How’s their fashion sense?

Older women look at post-WWII Italian fashion and see their stylish youth.

Boomer women see an era they ignored in their youth in favor of peasant skirts, halter tops, and sandals. You know, hippie attire.

Younger women see hope and whimsey in Italian fashion.

Hope and whimsey hooked everyone visiting the museum.

How else to explain a lady wearing a turquoise sheath, orange stockings, and purple sleeves?

Or the chimney sweep look of a Dickens waif in a black pea coat, black leggings, and lace boots below a face as pale as a mushroom?

Or Doc Martins, yoga pants, muted plaid sweater with a weaponized chain purse strap?

A favorite was an older woman in a long purple Nehru jacket with reflective silk designs.

It was so beautiful I told the lady her jacket belonged in the show.

What belonged in a different show was a young couple wearing Northface camp coats, be-like-Mike flowing basketball shorts over black tights, and no-sock Nikes.

They were Portland to the max, ready to workout, lounge, or go to a museum. A knit hat pulled low completed the look.

The point of an Italian fashion exhibit is showing great clothes that tell a story. Another point is seeing how Portland turns out toward the end of the run.

The fun part is listening to comments.

I took an elevator down to the last part of the show. Three men and a woman were already in the car.

“Looks like the last room in the fashion show is down on the first floor,” I said.

“Except we’re going up,” one of the men said.

“Really? You’re not going to see the Italian fashions on one?”

“Fashion show? Please. We’re here for the real museum, not some road show from the Victoria and Albert.”

“You ought to see the fashion show. Might get you out of that sweater vest from the fifties and the wingtips. Might be a better look for you out there.”

‘Oooo. Fashion burn. Ouch.”

“Too true. Who lets you out of the house looking like this?”

There’s no better place to talk style smack then a museum show on Italian style. What’s the worst that could happen, a slap fight?

We all joked in good fun, making fun of my black t-shirt and trench coat.

In the last exhibit room, smartly exiting through the museum gift shop, I demonstrated Italian fashion when I snuck up behind my wife and pinched her bottom Roman style.

It was funny until she snuck up on me and did the same thing. I nearly jumped into the exhibit.

Italy in Portland has never looked, or felt, better.


About David Gillaspie


  1. Chick Wellman says:


    Astoundingly good thinking and writing, my friend. Keep it up, please!


    • David Gillaspie says:

      You fashion hound, you. It was so much fun finding new ways to use a museum experience.

      Thoughtfully cataloging patron fashion in an Italian Fashion show was too good to pass up. That and the goose.

  2. Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you know after that you can write
    or else it is complicated to write.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Hey Hoodie,

      You’re right about paragraph writing. It’s the same with sentence writing. Load the most important information in the front and set up the next sentence/paragraph with what comes after.

      Think of it the way musicians think of root notes. There’s the lead up to the note, the note, then the progression to the next root. Call them passing chords.

      Or call it jazz, then try to relate it back to sentences and paragraphs. Not such a good fit unless you write poetry and snap your fingers at recitals.

      Online writing is for short attention spans. Hoodie, be honest, do you read everything that shows up on your screen, or do you look for reasons to move on?

      Studies show we really don’t want to read. You’ve heard others brag about deleting emails as fast as they can for the slightest reason?

      Those people are called agents, Hoodie, they get a million queries a minute for the stupidest ideas you’ve ever heard. To the writer the submission bares their soul; to the agent they’re just another idiot without enough talent to spell their name correctly.

      Technically speaking, the paragraph has a traditional funnel of information that pours from idea to the next, building an emotional response and revelation. Unfortunately readers who confront the block of text in a paragraph freeze and click away. Maybe you’ve done it?

      By keeping sentences short and separate there’s less risk in losing readers who scan until their brain locks onto the sequence of words they need to hear.

      What sequence of words works best for you, Hoodie? Auto-spam alert? Literary reviewer? Passionate reader?

      Here’s a sequence that works best for me: “Hoodie is my newest member to subscribe to Boomer Pdx.” Is that you? I’ll check back later.

      Thanks for coming in, Hoodie.

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