Not too long ago, thanks to a really dreadful SEPTA train schedule, I found myself in Philadelphia with time to kill before meeting Allium after work.
After an hour trapped on a jerky and poorly air-conditioned train I wanted to move — a lot. I was already sweaty and grimy; there was no point in even imagining that I would be able to reclaim the newly-showered and dewy freshness that had been mine when I first set out. Perambulation seemed to be the answer. I headed out from Suburban Station to see what I could see.
On Walnut Street, I realized that I have simply not been paying enough attention to good old Burberry, they of the dull, ubiquitous — and oft-forged — plaid. Someone at Burberry has developed an imagination — and, maybe, a sense of humor, too. This lovely garment isn’t the creation I saw in Burberry’s window; I can’t find a picture of the actual thing anywhere. But this is a good starting point; in fact, it’s almost the same dress.
My dress builds on this one, a gray wool flannel from the Prorsum collection. Imagine, instead, a higher neckline, almost to a shirt collar line. Keep that waist seam which hovers just above the actual waist. See those nifty pleats in front? Imagine three on each side, just like gents’ trews from the 40s. Then cuff that hem. Got it? I loved it — gray flannel trousers reincarnated for girls who’d rather wear tights. How femme! How humorous!
Yes, I wanted this wisp of modern traditionalism. I’d look smashing in it. The $650 [USD] was not exactly what deterred me though. Really, Burberry, sleeveless flannel? Don’t tell me, dears, that you mean that we should wear a turtleneck under this garment in order to keep winter’s chill from our bare arms. How very unchic. And yet, you surely don’t intend that this should be worn in the 85 degree weather so currently prevalent? Can this be wool for spring? Wool — and bare arms — for the unpredictable fall? No, I don’t think so. It’s really kind of wool for never — but so much fun.
The version I saw was belted with an exceptionally hideous, quilted faux-patent belt, much like the one above except exceptionally hideous, quilted, etc., etc.. But I quite like the simpler belt on the image above.
I passed on the $700 [USD] Burberry Maclaren stroller, too. A $500 [USD] premium for a Burberry cosy toes (and a black chassis) just seems stupid. Still, something interesting is going on here; it’s not your daddy’s Burberry any more. The Wall Street Journal’s got the scoop here, if you, too, are curious.
After an uneventful tour around Rittenhouse Square, I headed back past Liberty Place and gawked at the workers clotted around the entrances, ciggies in hand, casting noxious clouds across the entryways. London has joined the list of cities, like Philadelphia, that have banned indoor smoking; you can read a rather good post about that on Conrad’s Varieties.
I was pleased to see so much of the populace engaged in something other than Philadephia’s most famous outdoor sport — shooting one another. There were 406 murders in Philadelphia in 2006; on July 24 of this year, CBS News reported Philadelphia’s 236th murder of 2007. Second-hand smoke somehow seems so much safer.
Other denizens of the city are simply living outside. I strolled past this encampment on Philadelphia’s proud Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the boulevard that’s “oozing with culture” according to the UPenn art museum tour map. It’s also known as ‘
Skid Museum Row’.
Philadelphia, that city of contrasts, is not completely devoid of cultural entertainments. There are a slew of quite good museums, and there is also (quoting the tour map)
Philadelphia’s remarkable collection of outdoor art, which also includes the LOVE statue and Oldenburg’s giant clothespin just west of city hall. Philadelphia has more public art than any city in the country with the greatest number of outdoor sculptures and murals in the U.S.
Which inventory includes ‘Iroquois’, nestled a scant block from the aforementioned encampment. The explanatory signage says this “40 foot high painted steel [sculpture] honors Native Americans, and its central knot shape and brilliant red color also suggest a Chinese influence”.
Wow — two wildly divergent ethnicities in one. A diversity bargain if ever there were one. Frankly, I think this construction owes more to the influences of US steel and Aker American Shipping but it’s not like I’m an expert or anything.
As ever, quantity does not imply quality.
A few blocks later I’d reached my destination. I’d heard no fewer than four ambulances screaming through the streets in the scant hour I’d been walking, but seen no actual blood shed. It was a good afternoon.
I met Allium and we took up our dinners and settled down by the side of the Schuylkill to dine. A rather good blues band played below us, on terrace of the Waterworks Restaurant, and the view was divine.