Granny Get Your Goodwill Glory On

March 10, 2009

Hello you bizarre, beautiful land of sea creature lore and pirate ship legend…of worn, weathered churches and wooden steeples…of rainbow hermitages decorated with doily curtains and overgrown rosebushes…what have we here?

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cecilia-0021cecilia-003Ever since I landed on Isla Grande de Chiloe, I have been entranced with the peculiar characters that inhabit this Patagonian Island. Fatty-pants papas with coarse black ´staches and silver ear wigs in homespun argyle sweaters, leather-skinned ship captains with pipes stuck in black gaps between snaggled teeth, hunch-backed baldies in oversized suits of clashing houndstooths and glenplaids… Whatever the look, the bottom portion is most often tucked into a pair of fishermans wellies- a matter of necessity here, but most recently proclaimed by Prada as the latest fashion footwear when paired with outfits that err on the austere. Have the Chilotean fisherman been onto something all along?

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Their female counterparts rock out in their own versions of seaside practicality meets 1940s Eastern Europe. They paint their faces in garish clown colors and dye their hair in equally freakmonster shades; evidence for my fantasy that they are the ex-wenches that once entertained pirates aboard the ships and in the lantern-lit fishing dens on this island.

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Their attire ranges on the opposite side of the spectrum, however, as post-war conservative. Elsewhere, this garb could be found in bargain bins and backracks in Goodwill basements, reeking of mothballs and formaldehyde, and the ensembles could easily be slaphappy layers of protection against the seafront. But here, these grannies have an inherent restraint, successfully pairing mixed patterns in bold colors- still, nothing too obtrusive to the eye. I like the un-matching matching. It is not so easy to pull off and I am always so pleased when it works out; a smorgasbord of patterns that entertain the eye instead of offending it. I spotted a woman by the fish market and stalked her to capture her shoes and dress, the bold plaid and floral combination reminding me of the hodgepodge looks in some of Milan´s recent shows.

vintage florals and in-your-face plaids

vintage florals and in-your-face plaids

And below…she works hard for her money…so hard for it honey: A Chilotean on the seafront village of Dacalhue hawks her wares of seashells and sheep spun yarn, choosing to wear the same shades of muted mauve with deep navy as above, seemingly the uniform colors of many women here.  I am in awe of her bright red knit dome piece. It´s unexpected and eye-cathing…that extra punch of color and the look is just right.

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