MANHATTAN—Eco Fashion creeps up on you in the most unexpected places. In Manhattan, the epicenter of style in the US, it’s possible to stumble into boutiques or even your local H&M store and get a sense of current trends in sustainable clothing and textile production. But who could imagine that just off-Broadway, in the Westside Theater at 407 West 42nd Street, the reading of Love, Loss, and What I Wore would signal the arrival of Eco Fashion on stage?
The reading of Love, Loss, and What I Wore is based on Ilene Beckerman’s collection of stories. However what you see on stage was concocted by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, writers who any Fashionista in the know will most certainly have heard of (some of their collaborations include, Sleepless in Seattle, Bewitched, Julie and Julia, and When Harry Met Sally). Their most recent project, Love, Loss, and What I Wore began it’s Manhattan run in October of 2009, and the simple all black wardrobe has found a perfect “closet” at the Westside Theater, where it continues to sell out as the cast of five talented female actresses rotates every four weeks or so, providing a nice excuse to see the performance again and again. Currently featured for the month of June are Penny Fuller, Rachael Harris, Diane Neal, Sherri Shepherd and Cobie Smulders whose performances the AP has called “Funny and Poignant!”
Director Karen Carpenter did a delightful job of fusing the stories of the Ephron sisters with those of Beckerman’s to enable the audience to witness a broad scope of the female experience as seen through dress. But what you may ask, does any of this have to do with Eco Fashion? Well, firstly, there are many dimensions of Eco Fashion, which each reader can and will interpret in different ways. One of the few universally agreed upon tenants of Eco Fashion follows the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (3-R) principle. This idea was highlighted throughout the performance of Love, Loss and What I Wore, and it can be argued were the central focus for the plot.
When women talk about what they wear, in relationship to relevant times in their lives, they are not talking about clothes that went into the donate pile after wearing. No, there is no fast fashion to be found in Love, Loss, and What I Wore. In fact, as we learn at the end of the performance when Gingy (the main character in Beckerman’s book) shows us an illustration of her granddaughter decked out from head to toe in her grandmother’s beloved attire, we see a moving portrayal of the 3R’s as passed on through generations.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a poignant reminder of the ways in which slow fashion is rooted in the concept that anthropologist Marcel Mauss describes in his seminal work, The Gift—an examination of the custom of exchange. Be it Gingy’s mother painstakingly making her clothes for her, a vintage find, or the somewhat universal experience of spending way too much on an outfit we couldn’t afford for that special date; Love, Loss, and What I Wore gives us all the reassurance we need to remember the sacredness of the selection behind what we wear.
It is a warm, heart-felt window into the minds and hearts of women who love clothing: not because it makes them feel beautiful, as expressed in the Fat/Thin segment, but it simply becomes a part of who they are.
If you’re in the New York, Toronto or Los Angeles Areas, click here to find out more about viewing the reading and learn what amazing actress may be discussing the interconnectedness of Madonna and the Dressing Room at a theater near you.
Info on Manhattan performance tickets:
The New York performance schedule for Love, Loss, and What I Wore is as follows: Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets ($75.00) are available via Telecharge.com (212-239-6200) and in-person at the Westside Theatre Box Office (407 West 43rd Street). Same-day general rush tickets ($25.00, cash only) are available at the Westside Theatre box office, beginning at noon. (Limited to two rush tickets per person. Seats are based on availability; some are limited view.) Tickets currently on sale through August 2010 (cast to rotate).