After the last funeral of the series I gave up on the idea of a post about mourning attire as too grim and self-centered. I also concluded that it's probably better, more democratic, and certainly more economical, if people can pay their respects wearing their everyday clothes. After all, it is the substance of their respect that's important, not the symbol.
One would assume, however, that there are still rules, protocol, in fact, that apply to official mourners like ambassadors and First Ladies. One would also assume that official mourners would have the resources to obtain the appropriate clothing at a moment's notice. And one might assume that the First Lady of France, the former model Carla Bruni Sarkozy, representing her country at the funeral of Yves Saint Laurent, one of the 20th Century's great couturiers, would appear at the memorial in an outfit doing credit to both her country and his memory.
One would be wrong about Madame Sarkozy.
Okay, her jacket is probably an original YSL smoking. Her pants might also be YSL, but they're creased and look a trifle too small, like she had fished them out of a bag containing clothes from her old modeling days and pulled them on, unpressed. And even if Madame Sarkozy has the best rack of any First Lady since the Empress Theodora, she should have worn a bra. It was a freakin' funeral, for the love of Pete.
The oddest thing about the way she appeared at this event is that Madame Sarkozy usually dresses very well indeed.
How to say "oh, honey, no," in French
After I found the above photo i whipped out my 1964 edition of Elegance, A Complete Guide for Every Woman Who Wants to be Well and Properly Dressed on all Occasions by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux. If you're a fan of chicklit, you might have come across the novel Elegance that was inspired by Madame Dariaux's Guide. The Guide is better. Anyway, considering all Madame Dariaux has to say about everything else, her comments about funeral wear were rather short. Some excerpts from the one-page entry:
A woman who attends a funeral dressed in a conspicuous manner shows proof of a total lack of good taste and good manners. Even if you are not a member of the immediate family, you should dress in black, or at least in whatever you own that is most dark and neutral, and you should wear no makeup. During the course of a year it is unfortunately likely that you will be obliged to attend a funeral ceremony, and you should prepare for this eventuality in planning your wardrobe, just as you prepare for the luncheon and dinner invitations you expect to receive.
The best choice, aside from a black suit of wool in the winter and linen in the summer, is a dark gray flannel ensemble, both worn with a black hat, gloves, shoes, and bag. . . .
Well, with the exception of the hat, at least I'm prepared.
By the way, if you're interested in fashion design, like, doing it, not just wearing it, you might want to pick up a copy of Yves Saint Laurent: Style. It's full of reproductions of YSL's sketches, done, interestingly, on graph paper, as well as lush photos of finished clothing. See how the Master did it.