Thursday, 29 May 2008

Mackintoshs and satin gowns, on the eve of Port Eliot...



I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning for Port Eliot, and will report back on Sunday. Right now, I'm in a state of confusion about what to pack, because I'll be doing three different events, and who knows whether it will rain or not? My favourite rose-print frock, which I had wanted to wear for the garden party, appears to have developed a mysterious rip in it; but even if I manage some invisible mending this evening, will a tea-dress go with wellies, if need be?
And obviously, I must take a mackintosh, in honour of both the first and second Mrs de Winter...
I'm sure you all know these scenes from 'Rebecca', but here they are again: the second Mrs de Winter arrives at Manderley as a nervous young bride, knowing herself to be badly dressed 'in a tan-coloured stockinette frock, a small fur known as a stone-marten round my neck, and over all a shapeless mackintosh, far too big for me and dragging to my ankles.' But it is Rebecca's mackintosh that she wears on her first walk to the sea -- to the place where Rebecca died -- and Rebecca's lace-trimmed handkerchief that she finds in the coat pocket. 'She who had worn the coat then was tall, slim, broader than me about the shoulders, for I had found it big and overlong, and the sleeves had come below my wrist. Some of the buttons were missing. She had not bothered then to do it up. She had thrown it over her shoulders like a cape, or worn it loose, hanging open, her hands deep in the pockets.'
Rebecca's lipstick is still on the handkerchief, as is her scent, 'like the crushed white petals of the azaleas' in the Manderley gardens. 'I don't think much of people who just judge one by one's clothes,' says the nameless second Mrs de Winter soon afterwards; but clothes take a central part in the ensuing drama, as the means by which Rebecca's presence is felt. Just remember the episode in which the new wife finds her way to Rebecca's bedroom, still kept as if in readiness for the dead woman's return, satin dressing gown on a chair and slippers beneath, and a silver evening gown and train of white satin, slithering out of the wardrobe, almost as if they were alive...

2 comments:

oxford-reader said...

According to a friend of mine, Wellingtons go well with whatever you're wearing!
I've been worrying about clothes for the past few days, and now I think to hell with it, a touch of glamour and an umbrella will be fine!

Gondal-girl said...

Thanks Justine for the tip, had a peek at the Barrie website at your suggestion, truely full of info as you promised, have bookmarked to come back to it, after the slide to the end of the novel ( a bit like that Cheshire cheese race or somesuch :)

Enjoy your time away, and I am sure whatever you wear, you will be fantastic....in Australia we call Wellingtons, Gum Boots and are starting to be seen with all outfits on fashion pages, though it doesn't rain here much. Have a great time in Port Eliot