A GUIDEPOST REPRINT
JONES’ MINI MEMORIES
by Bill Cemlyn-Jones
8 August 1969
Guidepost cover, 8 August 1969
There has been a “Manifestacíon Minifaldista” in Paris, I note with approval, according to today’s Madrid morning newspaper. Bearing posters enscribed “Free Legs!” and “Long Skirts—Treason!” a group of bare thighed young ladies paraded through the streets of La Ville Lumière threatening a new Reign of Terror for those Paris Coutourièrs who have lengthened the hemline by several centimeters below the belly button in their creations for the Fall and Winter.
If I could raise the cash to spend a few days in Paris—which I can´t—I would join the girls behind the barricades in their gallant protest… I’d like to watch Yves St. Laurent and other scions of the Ancien Régime hauled through the streets in tumbrils to the Place de la Concorde, and I’d knit cute little G-strings while their heads fell into the guillotine basket.
The fact is, the mini-micro-skirt is the only female fashion in my lengthy outdrawn lifetime which has ever brought a faint twinkle to my baggy eyes.
The first time I was ever conscious of feminine fashions was one day when my mother came to collect me from kindergarten. It was during the twenties, and she was wearing an early version of the mini, which halted an inch or two above her knees, and an inch or two below her—artificial—waistline. She had the latest style in crew cuts, mercifully covered by a “cloche” hat (a type of headgear based on German military helmets of World War I.) The whole outrageous drag made me cry. Actually, I´ve never stopped crying ever since.
During the thirties, I because so obsessed by females, that I never took much notice of what they were wearing. My ambition was to strip off the wrapping as soon as possible. Then came World War II, when most girls seemed to wear hideous uniforms. I’ve never been very attracted by uniforms, even for men. At a recent ceremony in North Wales, a Lord Snowdon Jones wore his first uniform, designed by some Carnaby Street friends, and it was scarcely a success. You need a sprightly covering of Orders, Stars, sashes and medals to go with a uniform, and the former Mr. Armstrong Jones only had one medal—presented to him by Lord Thompson of the “Sunday Times” as a consolation prize in the amateur photographers competition run by that newspaper in 1964. It made Lord Snowdon look like a car park attendant in some luxury continental hotel.
Even the star of the occasion, der Kron Prinz Karl von Llanfair P. G. didn´t look much better. His honorary Colonel´s uniform was adequate, I suppose, but it was embellished by a synthetic nylon ermine tippet and a comic headgear. The latter items were designed by the Royal Couturier, that old sweetheart, Norman Hearts-Knell, who created Queen Victoria’s wedding gown in 1814, and saw no reason to modify his ideas ever since.
There´s nothing sadder, to my mind, than a Fashion Show. The flat-chested model girls parade down the aisle (cakewalk?) with military precision. They never smile. The poor girls can´t smile. If they did, the inch-thick maquillage, applied beforehand by carpenters, would crack. Their cast iron eyelashes are affixed by an electric welder. When the show is over, they have to be dismantled by an expert construction company. (Erection & Demolitions, S. A., I understand, has the contracts for most of the Spanish fashion designers. Ten years ago they used skilled craftsmen with hammer and chisel for make-up removal, but now it´s a mass production job with pneumatic drills. Ah! The old crafts are dying out!)
Until the micro skirt, the only fashion I rather cared for even before my time—were those prevalent in the early years of this century. There´s doubtless something kinky but nevertheless intriguing about those wasp-waisted corseted ladies of la Belle Epoque. Ladies and Gents did, I am assured, make love in those far-off days, but how the hell they did it, I´m damned if I know. Presumably, you chatted up the bird in the time-honored tradition, perhaps drank a quart or two of champagne from her slipper. But then, which must have taken some of the romance from the operation, one needed an engineer or two, a construction stiff and a first aid medical student. Maybe I´m better off in the minifalda age.
There´s another thing which annoys me about Fashion Shows. They´ve just been exhibiting the grotesque coverings which the well-heeled female members of the jet set will be purchasing for the Fall and Winter. Fall? I haven´t even started my summer vacations yet. Come to think of it, I don´t think I got away for Easter. And hell, what did I do last Christmas?…
> Featured image (chequered miniskirt)/Emily Salazar, originally posted to Flickr, CC BY2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped.
> Place de la Concorde/Mike Norton, CC BY2.0 via Flickr
> Red miniskirt/Some_legs, CC BY2.0 via Flickr. Flipped.
> Ana Sui Fall-Winter 2010 Fashion Show, New York Fashion Week/Masaki-H, CC BY2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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