In the first article of the first issue of The Skirt Chronicles, Haydée Toutiou, one of the magazine's co-founders, sits in the Neue Galerie in New York with a slice of Sachertorte and a coffee. She realises the warmth in her chest is akin to yearning and familiarity, brought about by overhearing a deep conversation in German and spending the preceding hour sighing over early twentieth century tableware. Surrounded by history and culture, she dwells on the intriguing sensation of being rooted in the present yet longing for the past as if it was an old friend or an estranged family member, fondly remembered. It is this sensation that grounds The Skirt Chronicles and gives it integrity. Its reverence for the past and sweet-scented nostalgia is what makes it so enjoyable.
The Skirt Chronicles reflects the progression of femininity and women, inspired by the simple societal change of the skirt. It is explorative and honest, whilst maintaining an amenable level of grace and beauty, and not taking itself too seriously. It is intelligent and observant, and does not blurt or show off. It’s a conversation that unravels naturally. Akin to this idea its chronological layout allows each piece to flow with the tide of time.
From an interview with Juliet Buck, the first American to be appointed editor of Vogue Paris, to Kei Kawasaki’s collection of textiles and their intimate traditions, the reverence to origin and history is genuine. It sings back to achievement, to becoming a woman, being shaped by situations and surroundings. It luxuriates in storytelling, respectful of the slow craft of living. The Skirt Chroniclesdevours these tales with quiet and polite voracity.
The other talent of the magazine’s creators – Sarah de Mavaleix, Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou – is more whimsical. It is their ability to marry contrasting tales with elegance. Featured is a short story written as an email correspondence between a tomato and its father, Mount Vesuvius, and Argentinian artist Luna Paiva who sculpts bronze cacti, inspired by the obscure habitats of plants in offices and hotel lobbies. The attention to detail and mastery of Japanese sushi chefs is married with Italian pizzaiolo. These unlikely pairings bring out a sense of wonder and satisfaction, as if completing a puzzle. When they are playful, their intelligence and eclectic intuition is only enhanced.
The photography is slightly grainy and soft, the warm orange hue synonymous with summer days of the sixties and seventies. Or at least that is how we seem believe them to have been. Black and white, polaroid, cut out of magazines, these images compound all the senses. The smell of pineapple which wafts from the candy factory merges with Paia’s smouldering foundry. The French perfume of the supercherie and heat of the city. These stories are sensory, impacting artists and fashion designers, writers and photographers. It’s this connectivity which is so reassuring.
Whether searching for permanence in a place long gone or looking forward to how we perceive our current culture, The Skirt Chronicles is a beautiful magazine with style, brains and, above all, culture. It is cultural artistic intensity as escapism. The poem ‘On Mothers’ typifies its contentment within nostalgia and love which descends generations, praising and relishing origin and how it shapes our lives today.