Accessories to an Alleged Crime

Accessories to an Alleged Crime

We’re finally nearing the end of the Conrad Black trial in Chicago. Jurors will soon be scratching their heads, gnawing on their blue collars or a feathered pen, trying to be just.

It’s funny how the jury has been repeatedly summarized in the media as “blue collar,” as if the meaning of the phrase was strict and significant, defining intellectual capacity and taste. You might have thought that by this point in the 21st century, the phrase would have grown, if not archaic, at least old-fashioned.

In fact, the traditional costume of the proletariat (denim, workboots, plaid shirts, cloth caps, even the little black dress that began in the wardrobe of the domestic staff) has enjoyed more heated fashionability than anything that has come out of the closet of the business world. After all, there are some people who consider the word “suit” a synonym for dull. Still, it’s blue collar that’s been construed as dull witted, as perhaps not capable of getting it. Next thing they’ll be trying to tell us is that high society is really high.

These days a style watcher might feel as if he was not doing his job if he didn’t pass on at least one shopping hint. Those strands of large beads that Barbara Amiel wore in the early days—an attractive alternative to the idea of toilet seats as neckwear that came up during the trial—are the work of a Toronto jewellery designer named Barbara Dodge.

I discovered this recently on a chance visit to Boutique le Trou on Queen Street West in Toronto. Proprietor Marlene Shiff, who carries pieces by Dodge, happened to mention that Amiel had been wearing some of Dodge’s unique creations. Dodge confirmed that she had seen two of her necklaces, one all onyx, another featuring carved wood and African opals, in pictures out of Chicago. Thought you’d want to know.