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Being Jo March: Little Women finally has an ending grown women deserve | Josephine Tovey | Life and style



Long before internet quizzes asked women to reduce themselves to female archetypes by finding out “which Sex and the City character are you?” generations of girls grew up reading Little Women and playing, in their own imaginations, “which March sister are you?”

Like the creative, tomboyish heroine of Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical novel about four very different sisters, I was a Josephine who went by the more boyish name Jo, the second daughter in a big family of girls. The choice seemed preordained.

It wouldn’t have mattered anyway though – like so many girls who grow up wanting to write and push against social conventions, I hoped to be Jo anyway.

So tight and so obvious was this affinity that when I went to see Greta Gerwig’s gorgeous reimagining of the story with my mother and my two sisters recently, Mum turned to me in the cinema lobby beforehand.

“You’re the star of this movie,” she said warmly.

Unlike her genteel sister Meg, Jo pushes against the strictures imposed on women of her time (“I like boys’ games and work and manners”) but also against the heroine’s typical journey – one defined by the pursuit of love and marriage. Jo was not only an outsider (and many readers believe, with good reason, coded queer) but an artist. She’s often the first one many girls encounter in print.

“She has always been there to greet maverick girls like myself,” wrote Patti Smith in her ode to Jo, “with a toss of her cropped hair and a playful wink to say come along. To guide us, provide encouragement, lay her footprints on a path she beckons us to follow.”

But Jo’s appeal has often come with one catch. Many who love her say it is in spite of the resolution of her story, and not because of it.

Alcott, who never married, wanted Jo’s life to mirror her own into adulthood. She was, by her own description, a “literary spinster”.

But when she wrote the second half of Little Women (the first half, chronicling the girl’s teenage years, was already a published success) she came under a familiar pressure to women of her age, and indeed every age: to wrap things up with marriage.

“Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only end and aim of a woman’s life,” Alcott wrote in her journal.

The pressure – and desire to keep selling the books that were helping to lift her and her family out of poverty – proved effective.

Alcott resisted the specific match most fans wanted. Jo crushed her best friend Laurie – and the romantic dreams of generations of girls to come – by having her reject his ardent proposal. But she concocted an alternative suitor, Prof Friedrich Bhaer, an older, impoverished gentleman who is at times withering of Jo’s populist writing. He becomes the story’s strange romantic deus ex machina, who swoops in and gives her, and Little Women, something of a conventional ending.

That marriage “felt like an enormous betrayal as a reader”, is how the writer Jennifer Weiner put it recently, a “capitulation”, more than a coupling.

So it was a small thrill to see how Gerwig – a self-described Jo – offered a small restitution for Alcott and her heroine.

She does this by turning the film into a metafiction – or what critic Dana Stevens accurately observed is poioumenon – a story about its own creation. Towards the end of the film, Jo is writing Little Women – a book about her own life. She spars with an older male publisher about how to end it.

“So, who does she marry?” he asks intemperately, and Jo can barely disguise her frustration.

It is a moment of exasperation for Jo that gave me, and I imagine many other single women, a shudder of recognition and a new reason to empathise with Jo. How often have many of us – even today – found the image of ourselves as individuals, heroines and creators, crashing up against prying questions and well-meaning comments about who we’ll end up with – and when.

“If you end your delightful book with your heroine a spinster, no one will buy it,” the publisher says.

So like Alcott, Jo of the film concedes that marriage was “an economic prospect for women” and agrees to marry off her heroine with an eye on her book’s profitability.

It is after this scene that we see a presentation of Jo’s romantic conclusion from the book – chasing Friedrich to a railway station in the rain. He exclaims he has nothing to give her, that his hands are “empty”. And so, just as in the book, she puts hers in his, they embrace, and the music swells in a self-conscious depiction of a storybook, romantic ending.

In parallel though, Gerwig shows us something else. Jo is alone, at a print shop, watching through a glass window like a mother peering into a hospital nursery as her novel – Little Women – is bound and embossed. It is the book that is placed in her empty hands, and she clutches it to her heart.

Both endings feel cathartic in their own way, especially since Friedrich is played by the preposterously sexy Louis Garrel. But there is also romance in the culmination of artistic triumph.

“What if you felt, when she gets her book, the way you generally feel about a girl getting kissed?” Gerwig has said.

This ending is redress for Alcott, more than a century and a half later. It is an affirmation of the writer’s own life, and a challenge to the notion that romantic love is what ultimately defines a heroine’s journey.

It also felt like a small restitution not only for Jo, but those who watch her.

Alcott’s story predates women’s suffrage, second-wave feminism and anti-discrimination laws but many of us – married or not – must still routinely push back against the framing of ourselves purely as romantic or domestic subjects, defined by our relationships, usually with men.

Not because romance isn’t thrilling, or partnership isn’t desirable, but because it’s an enduring frustration that even in the 21st century it is still often positioned as the true aim and end of a woman’s life.

I’m too old now to believe any of us conform to simple fictional archetypes, but sitting in that cinema, I felt more like a Jo than ever.



M0SCHINO Women's Fall 2020 Milan – Fashion Channel




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M0SCHINO Women’s Fall 2020 Milan – Fashion Channel

The best videos, the most exclusive moments of the international runway since 1982 until now, of the most representative fashion weeks of the world. Backstage secrets, make-up and hair style insights, curiosities from the fashion world, celebrities, photo shoot, designer and model clips, red carpets and gossip, parties, obviously besides the shows of all the top designers, generally available in high definition formats HD on the Youtube network FASHION CHANNEL.
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Sycamore Partners buys 55% stake in Victoria’s Secret




Sycamore Partners recently acquired a 55 per cent stake in Victoria’s Secret for nearly $525 million while the latter’s parent firm L Brands retains the rest. L Brands will position Bath & Body Works as a profitable, standalone public firm and separate Victoria’s Secret into a private entity focused on returning its businesses to earlier levels of profitability.

L Brands owns Victoria’s Secret, PINK and Bath & Body Works and operates 2,920 company-owned specialty stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Greater China. Victoria’s Secret’s business include Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK. Sycamore Partners is a New York-based private equity firm specialising in consumer and retail investments.

The transaction was approved by a unanimous vote of the L Brands board of directors. Under the terms of the transaction, Victoria’s Secret, with a total enterprise value of $1.1 billion, will be separated from L Brands into a privately-held company majority-owned by Sycamore, according to a press release from L Brands.

The company intends to use the proceeds from the transaction, along with approximately $500 million in excess balance sheet cash, to reduce debt.

Upon the closing of the transaction, Leslie Wexner, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of L Brands, will step down. He will remain a member of the board as chairman emeritus. Nick Coe, CEO of Bath & Body Works, has been named vice chairman of Bath & Body Works Brand Strategy and New Ventures. Andrew Meslow, chief operations officer of Bath & Body Works, has been promoted to CEO position. At the close of the transaction, Meslow will become CEO of L Brands and will join its board.

Meslow, who joined L Brands in 2003, has 29 years of experience in the retail industry, the last 15 at Bath & Body Works.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)


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Let Them Wear Cake. Also Fringe!




MILAN — The day after a billionaire became a punching bag on a debate stage in Nevada, and questions of money and privilege and elitism once again were in focus, at the end of a runway in Milan Jeremy Scott constructed an actual stage for his Moschino show and raised the same issues on it.

He did it with a catwalk paved in antiqued mirrors beneath crystal chandeliers. He did it with Versailles-era corsets and swaying pannier-miniskirts; in denim and gold brocade; leather and pearls; gray hoodies and satin bows. He did it with toile de Jouy knickerbockers and matching cutaways in macaron shades; in patchworks of elaborate velvet brocades and bubbles and tiers and trains of floral taffeta.

He did it with showstopper dresses built to resemble petits fours, the frosting iced-on in curls and rosettes of latex below towering court of the sun king-style wigs.

Ridiculous? Sure. A cartoon? Absolutely: Hidden among the toile de Jouy patterns and tapestry embroideries, Japanese anime faces peeked out. There to be worn? Not the pastry dresses anyway (the brocade jean jackets and shepherdess pedal pushers maybe). They were there to make a point.

Before the excesses of the 1980s, after all (the ones that have been referenced on so many other runways), there were the excesses of the 1780s.

It’s a complicated proposition using a runway show of expensive party clothes as a treatise on wealth disparity and the obliviousness of the ruling class. After all, the people who buy them are exactly the people being taken to task. As the show notes read, “the confectionery cocktail dresses stand as a sly comment on the denseness of certain people in power.” Mr. Scott elides the issue by turning it into a joke. The question is: at whose expense?

The Paradox of Lace

For a long time, Miuccia Prada was considered the political consciousness of Milanese fashion, the designer who most used her work to wrestle with the world around her. She still does, but now she has company. Whereas Mr. Scott uses fashion as a form of stand-up, however, made for the Instagram age, Mrs. Prada uses it as a way of thinking out loud.

And this time she was thinking about many of the same variables as Mr. Scott — the clichéd tropes of femininity — though her focus was not so much economic inequality and its historical pop culture poster girl as it was gender parity and its imagery.

In the world of Elizabeth Warren and Ursula von der Leyen and Margrethe Vestager, the assumption that a woman who comes out fighting has to hide in a man’s suit has shattered. But what happens next? Can you be a powerful woman without giving up the symbols associated with the concept of the weaker sex (see, for example, the wardrobe of that famous pastry-loving young queen)?

Turned out this was one of the questions of the week. It’ll probably be one of the questions of the decade. Mrs. Prada just articulated it more clearly than most.

Still, it was there in Christelle Kocher’s one-season-only guest designer stint for Emilio Pucci, in which the Paris-based Koché designer known for her streetwear chic kicked the prince of prints off his pedestal, mixing the famous Pucci swirls with lace and torn stockings, sweats and boxer shorts. Think Madonna in “Desperately Seeking Susan” transplanted to Capri, and you’ll get the idea.

And it was there in Silvia Fendi’s somewhat heavy-handed boudoir-to-boardroom show at Fendi, with its uneasy juxtapositions of shell pink and dark gray; thickening leather and frothing lace; puffed sleeves yanked off the shoulder and dropped down, so they looked both girlie and aggressively oversize at the same time. It’s “subversive for a strong woman to dress like a femme fatale,” Ms. Fendi said before the show (she herself was wearing a buffalo plaid shirt and gray pants). That is true. But it is still using the old gender stereotypes, when the goal should be to break them down entirely.

An Aside

Speaking of which: At Tod’s, the new designer Walter Chiapponi was also trying to break out of a stale mold — the “Italian lifestyle” leatherfest that the brand has been locked in for awhile now. And though he managed to let the stuffing out in slouchy wide wale corduroys that hung off the hips and puddled on the floor paired with cropped knits and tweedy blazers, in tailored 1970s greatcoats and patched upcycled leather, there was still too much residue of the old bourgeois loafer set to really signal a new dawn.

Still, it’s going in the right direction, especially the big quilted feed bags with the logo reduced to a tiny T on the side. Hopefully, next time they’ll let him use a bigger mallet to smash through the formula.

Then Prada Shrugged

Or at least reduce it to its constituent parts so it can be rebuilt in new form. See Ms. Prada’s 1940s silhouettes — strong shoulders, belted jackets, mid-calf skirts — hung with Viennese Secession-era jet bead fringe (fringe is turning into a trend this season); the masculine fabrics (tweed, wool, flannel) undercut by skirts sliced into carwash strips to liberate the legs; the shirts and ties atop sheer skirts; the dream weaver lotus flower prints on strict silk pajama suits.

Her show took place at the Fondazione Prada in a sunken plaza set with a statue of Atlas at the center: the Greek god whose fate it was to hold the world on his shoulders. The implication being that now it is women who have assumed the burden — which means it’s time to renegotiate what that power looks like, whether in our own closets or the world.

In the meantime, want some cake?


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