Well, Prince Edward County has done it again. Fresh from chosen as one of the world’s top 10 must-see destinations, we have now triumphed in that one, of our number, has made it onto the list of Canada’s ten best-dressed individuals.
The list, published last Saturday by the Globe and Mail, includes an “extravagance enthusiast,” a “sultry minimalist” and a “natty nostalgist,” the latter of who is our own Alexandre Fida, above; he's from Bloomfield. Congratulations, Mr Fida! Apart from multiple winners from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, the only other community from which a winner was chosen was Halifax, which is somewhere way out on the foggy east coast.
Mr Fida is photographed wearing an ocelot-trimmed jacket with a collar made from a coat that belonged to his great aunt, a white bow tie, polka dot pants rolled up to the shins, and shoes without socks. According to the write-up, he visits local thrift shops for “many of the charmingly effective pieces that have become his signature.” Mr Fida himself states that, “I like mixing classics from different eras to create an element of timelessness. That said, I hope that my style comes off as playful and fun. I try not to take myself too seriously and I like to have a good laugh.”
So there it is. Prince Edward County has now made it, thanks to Mr. Fida, into the fashion big leagues. That’s quite an accomplishment. Mr Fida, no doubt, has a decision to make. Will he use his newfound fame to launch his own designer line of playful and fun nostalgia clothing? Will he open a factory in Bangladesh? Will his sewing come from in Indonesia? Will his buckles and buttons from China, to ensure that costs remain at a minimum. Let’s hope he does not. He would be far better off to offer his services as a style consultant to those willing to pay him and see him on his own turf.
It seems inevitable that the County will soon become inundated with seekers after the ‘Fida look.’ The County will have to publish a lavishly photographed thrift store guide, like our arts, taste and wine guides, to be sure to attract the sort of visitor we are after; the one who doesn’t need to shop at a second hand shop in the first place. Who knows, maybe Bloomfield will become the hub around which a whole fashion sector might be grown. Designers will become ho-hum about New York runways and start chatting about the County instead. Ralph Lauren could start a line of County wear. Chanel could make reflective overalls. Visions of sugarplums dance before us
Let’s bring it a little more down to earth. Mr Fida appears to have realized that the key to good personal style is not just to wear any odd combination of clothes, but to integrate them into a stylish whole that gives the appearance of artful abandon. Before you rush up to your attic to get out your grandmother’s chinchilla stole to wear over your Maple Leafs t-shirt, note that it’s easier to get the ‘abandon’ part right than it is to get the ‘artful’ part right.
In other words, some people should not attempt to try this at home. I offer myself up as an example. My wife retains veto power over my appearance, after I made a fateful selection of a shirt and tie with clashing tartans, together with argyle socks.
Moreover, you must have the right cast of mind to pull off a style successfully. Mr Fida knows exactly why he dresses so exuberantly. “I can be bold and brazen. Colour and pattern somehow coax me out of my introverted nature,” he says
Mr. Fida is also on the right side of history. Nowadays, everything we hear is about minimalism, about getting rid of clutter and anything that does not bring you joy. If we were more oriented towards seeing value in the material things we own, we would be less inclined to treat clothing as a commodity, used for a short period and then discarded. We would be less likely to think about being fashionable dressing, in keeping with the latest trends, and more likely to think about being stylish; that is, using material from whenever to make an artful whole.
I tip my trilby to Mr Fida, the natty nostalgist. If he ever wants to borrow a tartan tie, he can call me. The tartan shirt and argyle socks may still be in a thrift store somewhere in the County, if not already snapped up.
Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.
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