Who is Dagny Taggart?
While judgment grows thick, while faith loses its choice, and while the people sit terrified, devouring their dinner, the media, and their feelings… there are those who do not allow good times to be by-gones, and instead, create.
For the past ten years, the American culture has been driven by an obsession of luxury and simultaneously “second-rate work”: an infatuation built upon the ability and defiant immediacy to make money and become marketable without having done honest work. Unfortunately, because of these banal standards of living, we are currently involved in a recession that has forced the American culture to regress. At present, the idea of trend, fashion, or of spending hard-earned money on mindless material goods seems wasteful. If the economy is in recession, then the fashion industry must be in the Great Depression.
Despite the struggles, fashion will never become obsolete and thus I have decided to write about a fashion icon that gives a renaissance to the state of style. Dagny Taggart, of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, is the Operational Manager and Vice-President of the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad. She was the saving grace of her family-owned industry, as well as, the savior of society when it was the most corrupt. The author of the novel, Ms. Rand, is known for her objective philosophies and the hark of the individual in terms of purpose and craft. I believe in her philosophies based on the idea of serving and developing the individual in order for the individual to ultimately benefit the community.
Dagny’s fashions, which are described with poignant detail in the novel, are uncomplicated, almost industrial, and they emulate the principles and structures, which employ her. Dagny wears the silhouette of a simple nature, but still is more remarkable than any other woman in the room. She wears neutral colors like grey and black, and it is her mannerisms and self-approved pride that distinguish her in a crowd.
“He saw a girl standing on top of a pile of machinery on a flatcar. She was looking off at the ravine, her head lifted, strands of disordered hair stirring in the wind. Her plain grey suit was like a thin coating of metal over a slender body against the spread of sunflooded space and sky. Her posture had the lightness and the unself-conscious precision of an arrogantly pure self-confidence. She was watching the work, her glance intent and purposeful, the glance of competence enjoying its own function. She looked as if this were her place, her moment, her world, she looked as if enjoyment were her natural state, her face was the living form of an active, living intelligence, a young girls face with a woman’s mouth, she seemed unaware of her body except as of a taut instrument ready to serve her purpose in any manner she wished.” (519).
It has been said, many times, that it is not what you wear, but how you wear it; and with grace, integrity, and self-understanding a little can go a long way. I prefer to refer to it as, Going Back to Basics, dressing in plain colors and sustaining one’s elegance, and by wearing well-tailored clothes and taking care of them, quality not quantity. Despite the appreciation I have for a healthy amount of expression and creativity displayed in people through their fashion sense, there is no need for circumstantial trend to dictate our lives as if we are consumer dummies…
It is, therefore, appropriate to state the success of simplicity; and to go as far as to say that in hiding the body with too much accessory is a distraction and an insult to the body as a machine and a vessel. Real-life examples of this would be our muse Coco Chanel or Margot Fonteyn, the famous ballerina.
It is our mind and spirit, which we need to impress upon the world, not multi-faceted flip-flops and headscarves.
Passing by a well-known vintage/designer boutique named Roundabout on Madison and 72nd Street in New York recently, I could not help but gasp each time I passed by a remarkable dress of a nature I questioned.
The dress, by designer Donna Haag, was made of what looked like metal plates sewn together. It resembled steel, and the woman who would wear this dress would look like a skyscraper. I thought to myself, that during a economic crisis, this is the one dress that a New York woman can wear. In doing so, she would be a self-proclaimed Statue of Liberty. I learned later that this dress was actually looked at by various PR and designer representatives as a dress for Paulina Porizkova for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, which this year will celebrate the Supermodel Era, this year, hosted by Marc Jacobs, Kate Moss and Justin Timberlake.
I have chosen to use this dress as an example of the style I describe, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because it is a piece of art and beauty, crafted by a designer with an exalted imagination. It is also of grave importance, because of its symbolism during a time period such as the present. It is a representation and dedication to strength, integrity and dignity; and such adjectives as these are what have defined and built New York City.
Last of all, because Dagny would have worn this dress and at an occasion, when New York needed it most; it embodies all that is simple, but with veracity that proves the convictions of the mind and ultimately the glory of the human body.
written by Emilie Ghilaga
Filed under: ART, FASHION, NEW YORK, STYLE | 6 Comments
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