When was the last time you received a letter or note that made you smile and want to keep it for memory’s sake? For me, it was a surprising moment earlier this year when I attended a fairly routine presentation for a fashion collection. The person who was taking me through, and who I’d just met, slipped me a note as I headed off. In it was a handwritten note of thanks for my time – a stunningly simple and lovely gesture.
It got me thinking about the civility and graciousness of correspondence. In this epoch of instant, digital messaging, the uniqueness and thoughtfulness of something in your own hand has a fresh significance. It’s that little old thing of the personal touch.
I’ve noticed this sort of personal communication happening in fashion too. When Pieter Mulier made his debut at Alaia, it was accompanied by a letter he’d written as a thanks and homage to the late couturier. In his more recent second show, he penned a letter once again. It starts like this: “Dear friends, / It’s the second time… and I’m even more nervous than the first.”
Gucci’s Love Parade show was also accompanied by a letter written by creative director Alessandro Michele. Michele’s an endearing wordsmith, and the letter tenderly explains how his mother inspired a love for Hollywood glamour and artifice in him. Granted both these examples are typed and printed, but they have a way of speaking directly to you that’s more touching and emotional.
The central set piece of Kim Jones’ Jack Kerouac-inspired Fall/Winter ’22 collection for Dior – which unfurled into a catwalk – was a giant facsimile of the novel On The Road. There is something about the written word that’s brewing. Chanel has its Literary Rendezvous series of videos; Proenza Schouler recently enlisted author Ottessa Moshfegh to write a short piece for their Fall collection; Valentino collaborated last year with actress Emma Roberts’ book club; Hedi Slimane just launched a perfume named Rimbaud for Celine… something to think about.
But back to things by hand. There’s something really charming and romantic about dashing exquisite little notes off to people. To your friends and loved ones (and especially with a gift), it greatly enhances well-wishes.
Sent to a foe, it’s devastatingly chic. On the occasion of a feud, the delivery of a well-timed note can be a killer move. It says you’re the bigger, more graceful person; the etiquette around not needing a reply means you get the last word in; and you get to show that you have better stationery to boot.
But those are hypothetical scenarios. The more pressing concern is surrounding yourself with beautiful stationery. It’s a functional category but that doesn’t mean it needs to be humdrum. Notebooks that make the thoughts you pen down feel a little more precious. Pens so lovely you think of them as instruments of writing rather than plastic sticks that merely facilitate reliable ink flow. Cream or ivory paper that makes standard issue black and blue ink look even better. There’s a whole world of lovely objects to make your desk a sophisticated little bubble to enjoy sitting at. Here are some ideas.
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