• Tue, Aug 30 2011

Bring Back The Trend: Parasols

Last week, as editor-in-chief Jennifer Wright and I were figuring out content for the now-current theme week, we were listing off dozens of trends relegated to memory: acid washed jeans, shoulder pads, bell bottoms. In doing so, I realized all trends were objectionable. Which left it very difficult for me to write about a trend I’d like to see revived.

The problem with reviving a trend is that more often than not, the wearer suffers. By which I mean, if you opt for a recently-faded trend, you appear hopelessly out of fashion. If you reach further back and try, say, an ’80s trend (stirrup pants and oversized sweater), it looks kitschty/costumey. If you reach even further back, say, cigarette holders and pillbox hats, those pieces become an affectation. Think about it. When was the last time you enjoyed talking to someone with a pipe? Unless that person was an elderly tobacconist, you were probably annoyed.

And then I thought, wait. What about trends that serve a practical purpose? My first inclination was, “Foot binding!” But then I thought about it for a while and was all like, nah, human feet are gross no matter how little you make ‘em.

After much soul searching, I finally came back around to a subject that’s never very far from my thoughts: how much I hate the sun. I am reminded of this derision each morning as I slather my limbs in SPF70 and am reminded again when I repeat the process around lunch time. If only there was a better way…

There is! Liberation comes in the shape of a parasol, that slender, frillier version of the more utilitarian umbrella. Rather than bore you with facts and history and lame shit about parasols, I’ll just admit that when I Googled “parasol,” Wikipedia wasn’t the first thing that came up and then I got bored. But I will tell you this: it’s my understanding that parasols block approximately 100% of the sun, keeping your skin safe from its seemingly bottomless bloodlust.

Unfortunately, a modern woman can’t venture out in public toting a parasol unless she wants to end up here. So, imagine if a great designer like Nicolas Ghesquiere or Rei Kawakubo breathed new life into the parasol, updated it with modern materials and unexpected textures, streamlined the silhouette… like what Karl Lagerfeld did with clogs, only not horrible. Before you know it, Hanne Gaby would be winking under one for the cover of ID and soon after, they’d litter the streets. And I’d probably only have to apply sunscreen once a day.

That’s why, for Bring Back the Trend week here at TheGloss, I’m nominating parasols.

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  • MM

    I totally agree with the article. Also, please tell me you’re going to do one on cigarette holders. I am dying to use one without coming across as a pretentious twit.

  • MelbaToast

    I live in the southwest, and I see people here using parasols all the time. Except they’re not parasols, they’re just regular umbrellas, and I’d feel like a twit using anything frilly. When you’re at a higher elevation and have clear skies with a blazing sun EVERY FREAKING DAY OF THE YEAR (god I miss the midwest), it behooves you to use one.

    Also, people should use the word “behoove” more often, but maybe not while using a cigarette holder.

  • Elizabeth

    I think Rei Kawakubo does make parasols … a lot of the designers make them for sale in Japan and China, where they’re still quite common. I know I’ve seen Lanvin, Vivienne Westwood and CDG in Japan, which was pretty exciting. I live in China now, and parasols are ubiquitous during the summer as well, but they mostly just look like umbrellas here.

    I’ve never used a parasol back home, but having carried them here I’ve fallen pretty much in love with them . When it’s really hot in the summer, you basically have a portable circle of shade at all times (I get really cranky when it’s hot). And when it suddenly starts raining, I actually have an umbrella handy for once in my life (a parasol should be able to do double-duty as an umbrella for just that reason).

  • Hanna

    I would love it if they came back. I have really fair, sensitive skin and I get extremely aggressive when I am too hot. Well, here in Berlin where everydone does everything and nobody gives a shit anymore (seriously, there’s a girl in my area who wears her hair tangled up and matted on her shoulder and the hair ball is the size of a sheep) I could probably just go out with an umbrella in sunshine and be done with it.

  • TL

    I don’t do well in the sun or heat so for years now I’ve wanted to use a parasol but I didn’t want to carry around a big umbrella or a frilly victorian parasol. I just found the perfect parasol. Its called a Penelope Parasol and I bought mine online. Its so small it fits in my purse. Its beautifully made ….very modern and elegant design. Everywhere I go people stop me and ask about it. So, I think you’re right, parasols are the next big trend.