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Runway Fashions

by Stephen Lautens


August 11, 2000

The last thing our airports need is more gormless people standing around clogging up the fire exits, so I'm not suggesting you head down there for a day's entertainment. But if you do happen to be there early, it can be quite a show.

I happened to be at the airport last night waiting to pick up a relative at international arrivals. That's where the real fun is, and since the almost every flight was late, I had a lot of time on my hands. They should either stop publishing flight arrival times or make it more sportsmanlike and allow you to place bets on how long you'll be standing there.

Some families obviously don't feel like you have been welcomed properly unless everyone on the block shows up at the airport with a couple dozen roses. It looked like there had been a raid on a funeral home last night. Either that or there were a dozen Miss America runners-up on the same flight.

I'm fascinated by other people's luggage. Even for a long trip I'm hard pressed to fill a small flight bag. People were getting off the various flights with bags so big you wonder if there's anything left in the country they're coming from. And I mean anything. I picture those countries looking like an apartment after moving day - nothing left except hooks in the walls and an old box of baking soda in the fridge.

People dress one of two ways for the flight home. The first group travel in sweats. With or without rhinestones and glitter butterflies.

The next group are more fun - they're the ones who decided to wear home the fashions they bought overseas. Somehow that latest style from Milan looks a little goofy in downtown Regina.

Or that beret from France that looked fine when you were in a crowd of other beret wearers.

South of the border people come back with the dreaded sombrero, destined to be hung on a basement wall. The same goes for the caftan look, or the Clint Eastwood poncho.

A friend I travelled with brought back a pair of Jesus sandals - a plain leather sole with thongs that criss-cross up the calf and do up at the knee. They made him look like he was auditioning for a bit part in Gladiator.

I have to admit, I've also made some poor fashion choices when overcome with the exotic clothes overseas.

I brought home a pair of grey silk MC Hammer harem pants from Paris in 1985.

I also bought what might charitably be referred to as a "Sound of Music" suit. You know - the gray suit with green lapels. Looked great in Austria - not so great at my senior prom. At least that's what my date said - before she stopped speaking to me forever.

At least I wore my fez once - to a Casablanca party. I suppose that made the $3 price tag and carrying it back on my lap from Turkey worthwhile.

Of course, you can tell your laughing friends what I always told them - that your outfit is all the rage in Europe and in six months everyone here will be wearing pirate shirts and thigh boots.

It could happen. And maybe someday I'll get to wear my harem pants again.


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