"A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double." - Toni Morrison
Born to proud parents History and Culture, Miss Fashion and Miss Classical Music have shared a special sisterhood over the centuries.
Growing up together, different flowers from the same garden, Fashion and Classical Music have been bonded by their creative careers, but often separated by competition, vying for more attention than the other. It's the same sisterly love and sibling rivalry we have so often seen in our own families and between other famous sisters like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Serena and Venus Williams, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, or Jackie and Hilary duPré. They all detest being compared, but they have had no choice but to accept the inevitable.
Fashion is the fun sister. She's prettier, sexier, and more popular. She gets invited to all the swanky events, the paparazzi love her (and she loves them). Celebrities are desperate to be in her good company and they fear the wrath of her capricious charm. Although she has been guilty of high-brow snobbery, over the years Fashion has become friendlier and warmer, making herself more accessible and approachable.
Classical Music is the serious sister; the smart one. Some people think she's boring, long-winded and difficult to understand, yet when tragedy strikes or it's time for quiet and relaxation, they often turn to her for emotional nurturing. Often blending into the background, she may seem shy, even recluse at times, but don't get her wrong, Classical Music loves a good party and when she's with her peers, her virtuosic side comes out in full force. She may seem like a humble wallflower, but the magnitude of her ego is just the tip of the iceberg.
These sisters are both incredibly talented and they each have taken their turn in the spotlight. Once upon a time, Classical Music was the favourite. In her heyday she was exciting, innovative, unpredictable, and sometimes controversial. She was worshipped by all social classes from royalty to labourers to clergy, but over time, the beloved tradition that defined her has become her burden. Faced with the challenge of being perceived as elite, inflexible, stodgy and severely conservative, Classical Music's popularity rating has plummeted, forcing her to seek ways to redefine herself.
On the other hand, Fashion has found ways to evolve, and her business savvy has excelled. She has employed the enthusiasm of her friends and fans to her full advantage. She has built an outspoken community by rallying the support of designers, models, photographers, stylists, bloggers, and other admirers. She has extended her appeal through forging strategic partnerships with cousins Technology and Sports. It's unclear if Fashion's mainstream vogue is due to her visual and tactile impact, or the finesse of her adaptation, or even the charisma of her followers, but Classical Music could take a few cues from her sister and we all know she is trying -- the YouTube Symphony Orchestra is a prime example of this.
For the most part, these once close sisters have led separate lives. Fashion might turn a deaf ear to the repertoire offered by Classical Music, deeming her unappealing to youth or lacking a strut-worthy bass line. How about Classical Music's hesitation to include Fashion, accusing her of frivolous, shallow vanity which would be distracting from the auditory message. Or is it jealousy and fear that both sisters exhibit, a complex mistrust that the other would detract attention from her, not realizing that their involvement actually enhances the drama she works to achieve? If they could just stop the cat-fighting!
Rather than trying to avoid crossing paths, if Fashion and Classical Music found a way to work together and help each other grow, they could reap the benefits of their relations, maybe even reach a new peak of success. (Perhaps like the sisters mentioned earlier.) Fashion could afford to tap into her sister's influential patrons and let's be honest, Classical Music could use a makeover.
Consider the occasions in which their worlds have collided - a rumoured relationship between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky; Hollywood and the silver screen; fundraising galas; even mutual friends like designers Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinist Hahn-Bin, and soprano Renée Fleming, all attempting to strengthen the bond between the two sisters - these collaborations have all been fruitful in one way or another.
I met Classical Music before I even knew the difference between a hat and a pair of socks, so I fell in love with her first and we have a wonderful friendship. She inspires me on a daily basis. Only in the last decade or so have I gotten over feeling intimidated by Fashion and turned smitten for her adventurous ways - now I can't stop admiring her. These sisters share the same dream: to create and bring beauty to the world. So, if you would indulge my attempt to reunite and embrace both Fashion and Classical Music together in a sisterhood of optimism, art, and love, we will live an elegant life - a genteel life.
Sign up to receive a weekly dispatch from
The Genteel is committed to delivering quality journalism, unearthing the forces shaping international fashion and design, through the lens of business, culture, society, best kept secrets and street style. As multi-dimensional and stimulating as its readers, The Genteel is the inspired destination where informed readers converge with in-depth fashion and design coverage.
A worldwide collective of contributors currently form The Genteel. On a daily basis our team dispatches thought-provoking and insightful articles from the streets of Oslo, Toronto, Beirut, Moscow, United Arab Emirates, Seoul and beyond.