Sunday, August 26, 2007

Clear Vision

Guess what I'm oogling in this Via Spiga ad?

The clear plastic umbrella.

Umbrellas are such a frustrating accessory. On the one hand, they're almost not an accessory at all, since they exist purely to serve a functional purpose. But on the other hand, if you're lugging one around with you, you want it to be stylish, or at least, not so glaringly unstylish as to detract from the rest of your look.

Manufacturers seem to have realized that there's room for more pizzazz in the umbrella department, but they always err on the side of the too printed, the too colorful, the too directional, the too flashy.

On the one hand when it comes to umbrellas, you want something beautiful, but on the other, you don't want anything absurdly eyecatching. An umbrella is no place to make a statement. Quietly alluring, it should also be cheap enough that if you forget it on a train or at a restaurant, you won't drive yourself half-mad with self-recriminations.

Lately I've defaulted to black, because I keep losing umbrellas and that's what has happened to be the least offensive option in the nearest store when a downpour starts and I realize that I'm umbrella-less. But for a while several years ago, I managed to hang on to a sturdy navy one, which was so completely neutral as not to clash with any possible look, and at least had the virtue of not being dull, ubiquitous black. But it still depresses me every time I reach for my bland black parapluie. As if the gloomy weather weren't downer enough, it's a constant reminder that I've tacitly conceded that this one part of my look doesn't matter.

All of which brings me to the umbrella in the Via Spiga ad. I have no idea whether it's actually sold by Via Spiga, or whether they're just using it as a prop. I'd want to check the price, the quality of the construction and the finish of the handle, as well as learn whether it's the kind of umbrella with a retractable handle that folds up small enough to put in a handbag (really, the only kind worth bothering with). I'm convinced that if Via Spiga doesn't sell one that meets all these requirements, it wouldn't be all that difficult to find.

So there it is, stumbled across in a single image: the answer to my umbrella woes! Not only will it flatter any look, it has moods of its own: ultra-slick/urban and nostalgic/child-like. The clear plastic is a genius solution to the problem of having something unique and infused with personality, but also something that blends beautifully with every color scheme and fashion mood and is likely to be affordably-priced as well. Now I just have to line one of these up before fall begins and the weather turns rainy.

Image from Vogue, September '07.


Icy said...

Oooh, I love these. I haven't found a particularly classy version, but I did find one for $10 at my local grocer (bargain!).

I always wanted one of these when I was a kid and now I have one!

I am 99% sure that they don't come in a foldable version though.

Ann said...


I've wrestled with some of the same issues: color matching, forgetfulness, etc. What a marvelous solution you've come up with!

Qing-jao said...

Keep up the good work.