Going through my digital photo archive, I found a shot of me with director Whit Stillman (left) last May at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City. Whit was there for a screening of his most recent film, “Damsels in Distress,” and a Q&A session with two of the actors in that film, Ryan Metcalf and Carrie MacLemore. This was one of the last films I saw in the city before moving to South Carolina.
After the Q&A, Whit stopped to chat with me for a while. He is one of my favorite directors, and has been known to indie filmgoers since the 90s as a chronicler of the “urban haute bourgeoisie.” Though his films lack a precise time or place, they do seem to capture the decline of mainline families, whose values and relationships seem hopelessly old fashioned, and an evolving and complicated set of social standards. His previous films Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco have been referred to as somewhat of a preppy trilogy. Metropolitan (1990) remains my favorite of his films.
The Last Days of Disco (1998) features an impressive Madras plaid sport coat worn by Chris Eigeman, who plays Des. Eigeman strenuously objected to being asked to wear the Madras jacket, but Whit won the debate.
Today at the Nearly New Shop in Greenville, SC, I found a great bleeding India Madras, patchwork plaid, short-sleeve button down shirt for $8.00. It was made for Rush Wilson Limited, an exclusive men’s store that has been in business in town since 1959.
The label inside the shirt indicates that the Madras was “hand loomed” and features irregularities in the weave that are actually a sign of authenticity. The dyes used in hand loomed shirts are natural and not synthetic and bleed when washed. Over time, the bleeding produces a wonderful faded look. I’d guess this particular shirt might be 20 years old, judging from the fade of the colors and the softness of the cotton. Madras is a key summer fabric for preppies and is essential in the hot and humid climate of the South.
The Nearly New Shop is run by the Junior League of Greenville. Store details:
118 Greenacre Road
Greenville, South Carolina 29607
Nearly New Shop Collection Hotline: (864) 232-1091
Monday through Saturday
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.