Bought the LRB this week for the first time in, I think literally, years. Full of great thoughts, of course, but also this anecdote about Isaiah Berlin.
Berlin is returning from Paris by plane when it
“caught fire and scenes of extraordinary panic occurred. I saw a thin flame crawling up the side of my window & decided that it would take at least ten minutes to reach me & there was, therefore, no reason for haste. I was, however mistaken in this. The aeroplane was emptied amid screaming etc. I thought of little save how to save my Abercrombie & Fitch new overcoat to which I felt devotion … I therefore behaved with a false calm … but no sooner was I out & contemplating the burning wreck in a Gibbonian manner than I was screamed at by a loudspeaker: told not to be mad … & to run fast. It was only then that I observed that the other passengers were as specks in the distance & that I was alone in my distinguished detachment.”
Keen observers of the passing scene will know that, although they have changed their image over the years, Abercrombie & Fitch are still around and making much-prized garments. For while it was one of my daughter’s ambitions in life to own an A&F hoodie- until she visited the A&F shop in London and realised quite how insanely expensive they were (and the music in the shop was, apparently loud enough to drive even her out the door). She then transferred her attentions to the British – and very slightly cheaper – equivalent – Jack Wills (of which, more anon, possibly).
I think I remember a while ago one clothing company (Levis possibly) running a series of adverts featuring famous names from the past (Hemingway was one, I think) sporting their kit. I fel there is potential here for something similar to be done with IB and A&F.
The overcoat would have to be updated to a hoodie. The plane is on fire, the other passengers run about screaming, but at the back sits a mysterious A&F hooded figure – possibly listening to his IPod. After the other passengers have thrown themselves from the wreckage, the hoodie saunters out, cool as a cucumber, hands in pockets. As the plane explodes he looks back, pulls his hood down and reveals – it’s Isaiah Berlin!
I feel this idea has a lot of potential, and intend to forward it to A&F’s advertising dept. forthwith.