“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things”…
…and at this moment of the world springing open again, fashion tops my list. It was in October 2020 that I started relating my fashion journey with Blog Number 57 traveling through the 1960s, ’70s & ’80s. Now I open the door to the 1990s—a golden decade in my fashion, in our lives, and in the Western world. I was ending my 40s and entering my 50s, the prime of Ms. Bevelina, à mon avis. After shepherding our two boys through babyhood, childhood, the teenage years and university, it was time for Jack & me to set up ‘La Maison à 2’ again.
1990 – The decade begins
Two weddings, one in the summer and one in the fall, and I chose navy accented with my first Hermès scarf—a lavish navy-with-yellow-roses square given to me by my son in Paris that I’ve worn as the perfect complement to dozens of outfits. Because it’s perennially in fashion, I shall bequeath it to one of my granddaughters.
On a visit to our younger son at University of Western Ontario, I brought a touch of Calgary to London & Toronto, wearing jeans & cowboy boots with a purple cardigan. As you can guess, the cardigan has the same origin as my fuchsia sweater, and it has leggings to go with it. So on many a snowy afternoon, I bundle up in cardigan & leggings for a walk along the Bow River or around our charming Scarboro neighbourhood.
Yet another wedding, this one out in the boonies in BC in a cabin on a lake. What better thing to wear in the wilds than my navy & white-checked Chanel suit? Yet another gift from my Parisian son, which had the seasoned seamstress Robin salivating over the fineness of the finishing of this haute couture garment. The marriage didn’t last, but the suit stays beautiful as it awaits a second life with one of my granddaughters, I hope.
On a much more casual note, a visit to the coast was a mini family reunion during the first trip to Canada by Sandrine, Sean’s French fiancé. They drove through the Rockies in my Audi coupe—what a lovely car it was!—while Jack, Jason & I flew over them to meet in Vancouver with still more family. Naturally, English Bay was on the menu, so we stopped for a photo–mother & son with the city skyline behind us, a postcard setting, eh? Naturally, Granville Island, too, was a favourite destination for lunching & lolling on the boardwalk; and what better to lunch & loll in than my white, striped outfit that saw me doing just that all through southern Italy, Corfu & Sicily in 1989?
The finishing touch of that year was a celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and a visit with the Park family. It was always wonderful to talk to Grandma Jean, who was 97 years old at that time and still fully in charge of all her faculties. I wore amber & black with gold accents, another classic combination in my wardrobe.
A milestone year in the Park family: I turned 50, and our older son got married. It all happened in the space of a week in France, first in Paris and then in Bourges, the hometown of our belle-fille.
The wedding. For fashionista Bevelyn, the discovery of Kenny Ng—a dressmaker par excellence (and florist, restauranteur and anything else he put his hand to)—was a sartorial stroke of genius. I loved my wedding outfits in navy & gold: the long jacket & drawstring pants for the civil ceremony at City Hall, and the long jacket & gold silk dress for the church ceremony at L’Église Saint-Bonnet.
So French, n’est-ce pas, to have two chances to dress up in one day?
The birthday. But before the wedding came my 50th celebrated in Paris. After cocktails in our hotel room, our party of 18 made its way to a restaurant in the Bois de Vincennes for the birthday dinner. A grand celebration it was, with some of us continuing it until the wee hours and painfully recovering on the train to Bourges the next morning. But recover we did for the next occasion on the menu: dinner at the Renaults to meet the Parks, which demanded yet another outfit in my suitcase.
The villa in Tuscany. We continued the adventure at a villa in Tuscany, with day trips around the region. Florence was our ‘home’ town, and Sienna was booked for the Palio on the 2nd of July, a horse race on Il Campo imbued with tradition, colour & passion. Lovely memories all—and lovely outfits for every occasion: denim, fringes & cowboy boots for the Alberta look; and long, simple sheaths with espadrilles for the hot summer weather. (My luggage was the diametric opposite of ‘traveling light’, and I longed for the porters of yesteryear to carry the load.)
More weddings and, inevitably, another birthday, this one celebrated at home hosting a party for friends & family. As I had at the Renaults’ dinner, I wore the long, lacy beige dress with a full beige leotard underneath, so dressed up and yet so comfortable!
A July wedding for one of our son’s friends in Winnipeg saw me wear again a white sheath & jacket I had had made for my dear friend Lynn’s wedding. And Aude’s September wedding in Bourges gave me another opportunity to wear my Chanel suit, this time with red accessories. Red being one of the colours in that travel wardrobe, it meant that my outfit for a day about town was red with a splash of black.
A wedding anniversary in Edson to celebrate my sister Thoreen’s 25 years with Ghislain, the MacLise clan gathered for a weekend in March. A favourite niece, whom I used to love to dress up in all the ways I would have had done with a daughter, and I dressed for the occasion; she wore tartan & red accessorized with a jaunty tam, and I wore black accessorized with a silver & gold necklace, made by the Corfu artist who also made our wedding rings, and a silver belt.
Summer time in Calgary always brought parties in our backyard, an oasis of vines tumbling down stucco walls & the brick fence and flowers blooming lushly in every nook & cranny surrounding the blue gem of our swimming pool. A private retreat in the centre of Calgary, and a place for casual wear, this time a yellow tank top and a pretty polkadot skirt I saw in Hawaii and just had to have.
We became grandparents! Thomas was born in March, and we flew to Paris in May to meet him. We spent his 3rd month in the south of France with his parents and rounds of friends & family in a villa that slept 14. Grandma B was dressed for every occasion: Paris, in navy skirt & jacket, with the Hermes scarf; Nice, in a summer shift for the tropical climate; Aix en Provence, in navy, with white & gold accents; at the villa, in red, then in whites for our family tennis tournament. The month ended with Thomas’ baptism, with the adoring grandparents totally in love with our adorable grandson.
Our last wedding of the decade, again in Bourges, France, this time a Renault cousin’s on July 4th. My red suit with its gold buttons matched by my gold sandals was chic & stylish—with the perfect accessory, adorable Thomas! At the next day’s lunch & gift opening, my long, tan cotton dress brought exclamations of “Très jolie!” from Grandmother & Grand Aunt Renault. Je suis d’accord.
A fitting end to another year was a Christmas party at our place for all ages. I always felt so put together with that amber jacket, often wearing it with its matching pants, until it just got too worn looking for its dressy role.
1999 – The decade ends
My favourite colour dominated my wardrobe in the last year of last century. It was red & black on the trip to Toronto to visit our younger son & partner in different combinations to suit the occasion—a stroll down Bay Street, a visit to ROM, a dinner out in a happenin’ restaurant.
And it was red again when we met our granddaughter at 6 months old at Christmas in their flat in London—Alice in a velvet dress with a bow in her hair, and me in a Donna Karen jumpsuit that made me feel glamourous whenever I put it on.