En route, I pass a sad little dress shop, the kind that's clearly just holding on until it, too, turns into a McCosiQuiznoChipotleBucks, of which there apparently can't be enough in any neighborhood through which pass commuters.
On the far wall, wrinkled, stained, and just off-center, is a fading framed poster, one that calls up a world infintely distant from the dowdy frocks on offer:
It is, of course, a work by the late, great René Gruau, an artist who is just a fashion illustrator only in the way that Ella Fitzgerald was just a girl singer.
That said, he was of course an extraordinary fashion illustrator, one whose bold, graphic style did much to cement in the popular imagination the High Fashion worlds of Dior, Balmain, and other mid-century greats:
Much of his work, though, balances delicately between illustration and abstraction, fueled by his tremendous gift for fast, swooping lines that evoke anything from an eyelash to a jetliner to, as here, a LoieFulleresque skirt:
When called on, however, he had a fetching way with The Opposite Sex as well...
He was that rare specimen, someone whose birthname was actually a great deal more interesting than his professional one: Count Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Camminate.
Something in his exotic Franco-Italian heritage clearly rubbed on his sensibility.
He was for decades as much associated with American magazines like Flair and Harper's Bazaar as French couture, which perhaps accounts for something insouciant and approachable in even his most chic creations.
And the man himself? In the measured words of one obituary, in the veddy British Guardian, "His private life remained discreetly private."