Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The great Théophile

My friend Elaine, whose doctoral thesis Sojourns of the Literati in Nineteenth Century Istanbul was published to modest critical acclaim seven years ago, said that she was so taken aback to hear her hairdresser refer to Gautier while he was sculpting the fabric of her hair, as he liked to call it, that she hadn’t been able to stop herself mentioning the great Théophile out loud. It was only some hours later that she realised, of course, her hairdresser – a young Canadian who wore his own straight black hair slicked behind his ears – had meant Jean Paul, and Gaultier with an ‘l’, which probably explained, she told me, the slow shake of his head that she caught in the mirror as he was putting the electric razor to the back of her neck.

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