Riffling through a pile of old magazines, a photograph in Vogue caught my eye, arrested my glancing attention.

Four women, quiet, contained, in grey-black clothing, draped in a shaded white room, languid yet alert. eyes hooded but bright, they speak to me in mysterious tongues.

Jean Muir & friends photographed by Deborah Turbeville,
with essay by Stacey D’Erasmo,
Vogue August 2004

British fashion designer, Jean Muir’s fluid tailoring in plain dark colours blur the outer contours of the body and seduce the onlooker to feel inwards. A plethora of storylines – fragments suggest themselves.

Long open delicate fingers – a pianist’s sensuous touch? Brooding eyes – of sadness, existential weariness, or sated passion? A firm hand in a pocket, decided and resolute. The day to day turbulence of restlessness and clanging desires steadied in the volumes of rich, dense, dark fabric. Thoughts held in polished check – brimming but private – under the elegant curve of an inky fedora.

“They were so strange, like long birds, and the expressions on their interesting European faces… were deep, still…. Obviously they were thinking. They were feeling.”

stacey d’erasmo

Dark eyes liquid, these creatures have mastered the art of draping the body to their own taste, veiling the inner world of thoughts, feelings, and sensations, which nevertheless still spark and animate the still silence.

“I am my own self”, they seem to say, “I am me.”