“The Romantic spirit pits itself against analysis; it believes there is such a thing as ‘thinking too much’ (rather than just thinking badly). It is offended by what is humdrum and ordinary and longs for the special, the rare, the distinctive and the exclusive. It likes revolution rather than evolution.”
-The School of Life
Contributed by Samantha Rae
Samantha is the founder of Beve Bene (bev-eh ben-eh), a wine education business that aims to champion natural wines and help people feel more wine confident.
As I laze about in my tie-die neon lounge wear with a glass of Riesling in hand, it dawns on me what connection there could be with fashion and natural wine.
When I consider the movers and shakers of the wine community - the two are intertwined. Those who champion the natural wine movement tend to express themselves through their attire, and it’s usually quite progressive.
So, what is the connection exactly? I think it comes down to the fact that we are all a bunch of hopeless romantics.
I’m not talking about love here, although it could be included. I’m talking about Romanticism.
Let’s jump back a few years. Romanticism was a movement dating back to the late 18th and early 19th century impacting all aspects of culture and society. It was a revolt against neoclassicism which embodied ideals of emotional restraint, order, logic, and dignity.
Enter what is now termed romanticism. It emphasizes imagination, emotion, individualism, and a fascination with the past. People started expressing themselves outside convention and expectation and relied on their emotions and intuition to guide them. This flooded into all areas of life via art, music, literature, fashion, and even science.
In music, we saw composers like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin emerge. Instead of prioritizing rigid form and rules at the time, they saw music as a means of individual and emotional expression. They considered it the art form most capable of expressing the full range of human emotion.
In fashion, the Romantic era signified the end of the classic and modest “empire” silhouette that had reigned for centuries. The chief influences became gothic decoration, lavish dresses, and styles borrowed from centuries’ past. For both men and women, colours and silhouettes became more elaborate and exaggerated.
Even in science, the key players at the time sought to uncover what they believed was a unified and organic world, and that knowledge was only attainable by those who truly appreciated and respected nature.
What defines romantic living today? Modern romantics are a passionate bunch. They are highly attuned to their emotions, and those of others, and they make decisions with an emphasis on how they feel, rather than relying solely on logic. They have a deep connection to the natural world, caring about how they impact the planet, and where the things they consume come from. They are highly imaginative; they do not settle for the ordinary or the mundane. They also tend to be quite hedonistic.
The modern romantic is also nostalgic. They treasure music of generations’ past, vintage clothing, and cellared wine. But the romantic’s one flaw may be their “Golden Age Thinking” (coined by Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris) - it’s the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than another — it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.
On any given day, you will find the modern romantic reading a book at a café or headed to their local art gallery. They host dinner parties where they come adorned in their latest vintage fur, bold jewelry, local designer button-up, or their grandfather’s suit jacket from the mid-century. Natural wine flows as social lubricant, and carefully curated playlists guide the night. The food took all day to prepare, and it came from the butcher shop around the corner. The company they enjoy are others who feel similarly about life, but they hold difference of opinion to be engaging and important. The evening is full of elegance and yet, debauchery.
Sound familiar? Romanticism, I think, is at the core of the natural wine movement.
The idea that natural wine is the most intimate expression of terroir is highly romantic.
So what does this have to do with modern fashion? If we are all a bunch of hopeless romantics when it comes to our wines, then it spreads into all areas of our lives. It’s a way of living.
We push against the norms, what’s expected, what society tells us we should do and wear. We value individual expression, and what better way to do that with how we present ourselves to the world? Our bodies are the canvas and the textiles, colours, textures, and patterns are our medium.