A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Yumi Eto's Grand Fashion Sense, Mine - Not & Doug Coupland Lends A Hand
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Since I was a little boy I often heard my mother tell me, "Hay poca gente fina como nosotros." This sort of meant, "There are few people around with our bearing, good sense, taste and manners."

For the spring issue, 2000, of Nuvo Magazine (a magazine for which I worked for short while) I was assigned to photograph an emerging Vancouver fashion designer called Yumi Eto. Because this magazine had foresight (it is now standard editorial procedure) they arranged for me to photograph Miss Eto at a small Vancouver boutique hotel called Le Soleil on Hornby Street. It was not that she ever stayed there but the art director told me it would look good in the photo credit department.

I have never really had much of desire to dress fashionably although I have had my moments. Back in the early 50s in Buenos Aires I was extremely ashamed of my Argentine jeans when my fellow American students at the American School wore Lees, Levis and Wranglers. I could not explain to my mother that all jeans were the same. I remember nagging her until she bought me a pair of black high top Pirelli tennis shoes. We called them tennis shoes then. And in Rosita, Northern Mexico I could never make my Lees look quite like Sammy Simpson's.

In the late 50s I discovered the button-down shirt and black cordovan loafers. I have never lost my love affair with former and I have long lost interest in expensive shoes. In the late 80s I went to New York City and went directly to Brooks Brothers to buy a blue Oxford button-down shirt. When it got time to pay, my American Express Card was rejected and I was most embarrased when the man behind the till (he looked and sounded like a failed Holywood British actor) said, "There seems to be a problem, sir, with your plastic." The problem was resolved to my satisfaction when I called up the folks at American Express but somehow the shine was off in wanting to be fashionable.

I now have no fashion drive or sense. I buy blue and black jeans at Mark's Wear Warehouse. Of late I have been indulging in the stretch variety of blue jeans. They would have been anathema a couple of years ago. I buy my black oxford shoes at Mark's, too. Every couple of years I get some dark blue and black mock turtle neck long sleeved cotton shirts. I used to wear all kinds of T-shirts (my collection hovered around 75) but now I will either wear pictures of my granddaughters on white T-shirts or black or blue plain T-shirts (from Mark's). I buy my boxer shorts at Simpson Sears.

While I insist in writing here that I was never crazy about fashion, my daughters never fail to remind me how I used to carefully dress before going to a punk concert at the Smiling Buddha. I wore tight black jeans, black Big John slip on low cut boots, a black T-shirt and a black leather jacket. The whole package failed on the spot as soon as I pulled out an Irish Peterson pipe (in a stle called Canadian) and filled it with Balkan Sobranie tobacco and lit up.

Vancouver Magazine dispatched me to photograph another fashion designer in the late 80s called Katherine Regehr, (right). A young Doug Coupland, (below, left) insisted in coming as he said he would help me style the photo. He did and my photo looked grand.

Even though I have no desire to be fashionable I remember some of the nice things that did happen thanks to the fact that through my work with magazines I had to at least know something about fashion. Recently after a successful shoot, a red haired woman with many freckles brought me white roses. It made me remember only one other occasion when something similar happened.

Yumi Eto was so pleased with her portrait that she sent me white roses.


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