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Humour: Haute, Hot or Odd Couture?
Haute, Hautism, Hautistic, Hautistique
I work in the Fashion Industry. In its lowest rung. I has never been a fashionista and I even dislike the word because it sounds so close to a “fascist-a”. There is no such word as “fascist-a”, but the association is there and it is unpleasant. Language allows us a lot of creativity, don’t you agree? It is a living thing, an organism. We need words, we love words, we play with words, we savour words, we use them to convey meaning, we use them to conceal meaning, and we use words to show off.
The word “haute” seems to be in high (high being the operative word) demand. It is popular. It is trendy. It is a pity, of course, that most people I meet mispronounce it. It is a French word meaning “high”, but so few Canadians or so it seems are aware that in French “h” is silent. So, it is in Spanish by the way. If you don’t know, Canada has two official languages, English and French. Toronto is the most multilingual and multicultural city in Canada, it probably scores very high on the multiculturalism even on a world scale. It is a hub for all spoken languages; it is a Babylon Tower (we shall rename Toronto into Tobylon or Babylonto soon), often referred to as “an international airport”. Funny thing, though, is that residents of French-speaking province speak English well enough, while the English-speaking population of Canada remains largely unaware or indifferent to French. I am not making a judgment. It is only an observation. After all, of all people I know how hard it is to be truly bilingual. Indeed, most Torontonians speak more than one language, where the second language is English, not French. The unilingual Canadians are those who were born here. They don’t really bother with the second language. No interest, no need. Not until there is an urge to show off.
So it is “Haute Couture” (High Fashion) and it should be pronounced [‘o:t cu:’tur], not [ho:t]. There is a metamorphosis from “high” to “hot”. The French speaking population of Canada might actually remove all H’s from English words. Why not? No, it is not retaliation. Same words, different rules. “High” will become “Igh”.
So, “I Fashion”? “Eye Fashion”?
This is certainly "Haute" and Practical for?
Creativity, Créativité, Creatividad, Creatività
You probably think… Maybe you don’t even think about it… I don’t see the point of using foreign words that most people don’t understand let alone have no clue how to pronounce. Maybe it feels good to be in the world of your own, in the world of “hautism” (drop the h, please). The mall I work in is very “hautistic” or is it artistic? Feel free to “frenchify” to “hautistique” ou “artistique.”
Yes, I am making fun. Or having fun. I love words and languages and I dislike illiteracy. I despise it. I have contempt for “faux pas” and pretence. Even though my French is not that good, I feel that “haute” sends the wrong message.
Coming back to Fashion. To “Haughty” Fashion. Well, at least it is an English word and all that “high fashion” is pretty “haughty” to me. Elitist, overpriced, impractical, unwearable and unbearable. Don’t’ take me wrong, I value creativity. This is my creativity. It is my creative writing. In my opinion, all writing is creative unless you copy word for word. How many “fashionistas” are creative and how many follow the advice/orders from designers or trend setters or trend columnists or God knows who? Who decides what is fashionable? Then marketable? It is all business. Commerce. INDUSTRY.
Only recently I mentioned the line "commercial art" talking about Lady Gaga (speaking of fashionistas!) and I was told that there is no such thing. Words "commercial" and "art" don't belong together. But we are not appalled by "Fashion Industry". I am slightly, but I am weird. Yes, I believe now that Fashion is commercial art. Selling is art of commerce, especially selling something that people don't need. Too much clothes of questionable quality and even more questionable design.
I have to say - I Like It!
Fashion is Cruel or is it the Weather?
I was thinking (I am still thinking) about my vision for 2011 and I designated (post factum) January to be a month of a Hub. Note: I will be dropping every now and then Latinisms that most people have no chance of understanding unless they have immediate access to the Internet. See how well-educated and well-read and well-versed and multi-lingual I am!!! I am almost blinded by this grandeur of mine. So, January. I called it "the month of a Hub" because I joined HubPages in January and instead of working on my “Vision for 2011” I dedicated time to creating a presence in the writing community. Inflated presence given my fabulousness.
February was supposed to be… A month of love? No, that is too typical. Too banal. Too cliché. Oops, another French word, n’est-pas? I just cannot help it. What next? Cherchez la femme? Femme fatale (in other words, fashionista) or "a la guerre comme a la guerre"? Somebody stop me! But there is no stopping when it comes to fashion. "Fashion", a love reverie for one day or forever. Actually, substitute "Fashion" for "IDYLLE" and you will get it right, it is a line describing fragrance (sell, sell, sell while it is haute!). But fashion is idylle for fashionistas and fashion business. It generates money and money is always taken seriously. Not for a day. It is "amour pour toujours"! Love forever!
Anyway, as the time passes by and it passes by so very quickly, something “haute” popped up. An article in “The Toronto Star” by Karen Von Hahn (I love this “von”, you should know what that means, of course, and if you don’t, I feel so much superior to you, ha-ha-ha, imagine a touch of Mephistophelian laugh, very haute and …and … and.. no, not actually high, but low, seductive, languorous, fashionable, absolutely fabulous! This little spark will give birth to the line “Mephisto” fragrance, jeans, haute couture, no wait, the idea is still mine.) Ok, moving on. Von Hahn informs readers that “February is the Cruellest Month for Fashion”. Oh, our fabulousness is at risk. Especially mine, because I never had one, except with words.
We shuffle through February like overmedicated mental patients, Karen Von hahn writes
- Von Hahn: February is the cruellest month for fashion - thestar.com
Thanks to what's involved in just getting out the door here in February, we as a nation are seriously style-challenged.
"It's so cold and so miserable out there...
Karen von Hahn believes that Canadians are a nation that is seriously style-challenged. Blame the weather. “Fabulousity of February” is indeed compromised by winter clothing. We are bundled up “in many dull-coloured layers”. Well, if you look at the picture, the first thing that you would notice that “we” are NOT bundled up. That the saddest truth about Canadians. They don’t want to dress according to the weather.
It might be cold, it might be freezing, but the majority of people would be underdressed. Look at the first picture. The girl is wiping her nose. How typical! She is not bundled up. She never will. She will be “fabulous” and “haute” and wipe her nose with her sleeve. That is the reality of Toronto style. It was the first thing that struck me when I came to Canada. It was March 4th, 1997 and Canadian miserable winter was in full bloom. The lack of fashion and style was striking. Torontonians did not seem to care about either style or comfort. They still don’t. I adjusted, I scaled down as most immigrants did, but now I think it is time to reconsider, it is time to come back to Russian fabulousness. Why? I don’t know. Maybe working in retail rubbed me the wrong way.
Maybe the whole “haute” business stirred some memories and feelings. Just today I had a conversation with a customer.
-- We came to buy gloves at that place, but it is closed.
Note: there was a store across ours and now it is closed, but there is a huge sign that reads “Something Haute is Coming”,
but they did not pay attention, which is also typical. So, I said:
-- Something Haute is coming.
-- Something odd?
-- Not odd, haute.
-- Do you speak French?
-- Do you speak French?
It was not such a difficult question, by the way, but people hate admitting that they don’t know something. They don’t have to know, yet they won’t admit. Fine. Not getting an answer to a simple “yes or no” question is typical. Once I spent ten minutes trying to get out of a sales “associate” an answer to the question “?” He just could not answer. The big mystery is not that he did not know the answer, of course, he did, but he was trying to figure out, why I was asking him. As if he could. Do you speak Italian
The supermarket where I buy coffee is very haute indeed, maybe even hauter than the whole mall. The names of their pastries are all in French. So I pay for my order and say
“A small Vienna and danoise aux fruits, s’il vous plait” (Vienna is their medium roast coffee and danoise is a Danish).
You should see the look on their faces.
What is the point then of being so fancy?
Before I continue...
Before I continue my little pasquinade, I really want to tell you that I don’t hate Toronto, foreign words or Karen Von Hahn. I have nothing against anybody. I am pretty sure that Karen Von Hahn is a lovely woman, but my writing is just what it is, a little satire, and a harmless creative piece, nothing else. And I don’t invent anything. Toronto is a nice, lively city, Torontonians are nice, lovely people, if only slightly depressed, especially those who have to take public transportation especially in harsh winter weather.
I even agree with Karen, especially with these words “we lose the spring in our step, shuffling along…” Yes, shuffling. Oh, my God, Toronto is a city of shuffling, dragged feet. Young people, young women don’t pick up their feet. Just give me the gun! I am kidding. About the gun. Not about bloody shuffling. It is simply maddening. The song that I included at the end “I’m only gonna break break ya heart…” is very catchy and I have to listen to all sorts of maddening songs at work, but this one stuck at one point and I was going home and singing “they only gonna drag and drag their feet” Try it. Either singing or dragging or both. Imagine you are visiting Toronto. Anyway…
Express to Impress
Do you like to include foreign words in your speech?
By the way, hautism is not a real word; it is my creation resulting from my creationism of fabulousity.
Czarism on the other hand is a real word. A Russian word that is. When trendsetters start dropping Russian words, I simply could not resist.
This headline that read “Style Czar” caught my eye and naturally I was drawn. It is the word “czar” that was the trigger. Fancy, are we? Russian, eh? But now it is my turf undoubtedly. It is a Russian word for king (it originates from Caesar, but czar is a Russian version nonetheless). The picture that came with it was so ridiculous that I thought it was an advertisement for yet another fashion style (another haute couture quelque chose unpalatable). No, but Karen VON … appears. I hope the word “czar” was not in personal reference to her (despite the “von” business) because it would be even more ridiculous than dropping “haute” everywhere. She could not be a “czar” unless she undergoes sex change procedures. A czar is a male only. Russian is a gender sensitive language. As is French. As is German. She can call herself “czaricza” if she wants for “queen” or “czarevna” for “princess”, but I would leave “czars” to the other sex. Yet, the paper tolerates everything. Even my writing.
I am having so much fun with it. Next time you have a Caesar salad, you might say “Can I have “czarist” salad?’ Or instead of having “caesarian section” ask for “czarsky section?” Even though you might not be in the mood for jokes. But you know doctors, they love their medical terms, mostly latin. Oh, where my Latinisms? Locus minoris, delirium tremens…
What can be better? Starbucks in Paris!
Well, from French to Latin to Italian…
Do you ever go to Starbucks? If there is Starbucks where you live, of course… They are fancy, too. It is not about having coffee, it is about being, no, having sublime coffee experience. They use Italian… Italiano, Milano, mi amore, tesoro mio, ti amo… ragazzo…
“Venti”, “Grande”, “barrista”. I tried reasoning (not really reasoning, talking more like) with people who work at Starbucks, but they are, of course, clueless. I started with “Parlare Italiano?” with little success, but then I just started using “per favore” and “grazie, signora” and it worked like a charm. No longer I had to speak English and they were so happy to see an Italian. “Are you from Italy?” a face lit up as a thousand candles. “Si”. What if I had said that I was from Russia?
Cool and Chic
I don’t think it matters. But to tell you the truth, I do love languages and now after writing this piece I think I will be absolutely fabulous with my vocabulary and style.
I will be making a difference, one Russian woman in Toronto at a time. Since today is St. Valentine’s Day, I picked a Valentino outfit. Red always makes a statement. Besides in Russian language words “red” and “beautiful” have the same root, at some point the expression “a red girl” meant “a beautiful girl.”
Yes, it is winter in Toronto and in Moscow. We are style-challenged and money-challenged, but not language-challenged or dream-challenged. There is an old Scandinavian saying “there is no bad weather only bad clothes” (what an opportunity for fashion industry indeed!)
Dear designers, Toronto is in a dare need of a style make-over and language schools. Once we conquer these heights, what irresistible heart-breakers we will become!!!
Happy St. Valentine’s, St. Valentino’s, St. Designer’s Day, mon amour!!!
A Designer to a Fashionista
- Creating a Vision - Am I Beautiful? Just Say Yes
How to get over my insecurities? You don't know? Neither do I. Am I beautiful? Am I powerful? Does it matter? For what? Questions, questions, questions.
© 2011 kallini2010