It is not for nothing, either, that the umbrella has become the very foremost badge of modern civilization–the Urim and Thummim of respectability. . . . So strongly do we feel on this point, indeed, that we are almost inclined to consider all who possess really well-conditioned umbrellas as worthy of the Franchise.
-Robert Louis Stevenson, Philosophy of Umbrellas
i’ve always loved umbrellas. i’m not sure if it was an association with whimsy in my childhood movies and books, or if it was the association with alice in wonderland, my favorite childhood tale and film. as a little girl, i owned a pink raincoat with bears on it, and a yellow umbrella with ruffles on the edge. i grew out of one, and lost the other, and my mother found it difficult to justify the replacement of either, as we, at the time, lived in california. to test them out, though, i would put on my rain coat and grab my umbrella and run out the door as the sprinklers came on to give the lawn a drink of water in the heat of the californian summer.
though we moved away to a place where protection from rain is more than a whimsical afternoon, as a teenager, of course, i practiced the common culture of my peers. as a youth, and later a college student, it was not cool to use umbrellas around town, despite the fact that my city is well known for its rain. true residents of our rainy city would not need protection from the rain, and would accept the effects of a torrential downpour without question! a sure way to pick out natives and out of towners was to see if they had an umbrella out on a rainy day. of course, that was before we could afford to wear nice clothing, or carry fashionable handbags that we did not want to ruin in the weather.
at some point i decided that i hated being wet all day and permanently borrowed my mother’s huge lagerfield’s stick umbrella. when i carried it around i felt a certain grace and poise that could not be gotten from locks of soaking wet hair drying as i sat through lecture. i loved this umbrella for its full shape and for the elegant silhouette. it matched my winter coat, and made me feel fashionable and coordinated. i used that umbrella for several years, until my mother reclaimed it.
at a loss, i began to notice umbrellas that were available in our rainy city through boutique stores. particularly, colorful canopies and interesting handle designs…vintage shapes that invoked a sense of cirque and cabaret especially caught my eye. as i saw more and more of them, i simply could not resist building a collection of beautiful umbrellas!
one of my favorite umbrella merchants is pare*umbrella. i met the owner at a sunday farmer’s market 5 years ago and could not help acquiring one of her fabulous umbrellas, self-imported from tokyo. with everything from viney leaf and flower prints, to pop culture designs to colorful polka-dots and lace, the umbrellas are unlike anything american-designed.
with fun and trendy colors, her umbrellas really help to keep spirits bright and high during the sometimes long, drizzly, gray winter season. i’ve got 4 of her limited edition umbrellas, and keep my eye on her website see when new umbrellas that catch my fancy are released!
for a more sophisticated look, one of my favorite umbrella designers is parisian designer chantelle thomas. incorporating the themes and frills of her lingerie line, chantelle thomas manufactures high quality and uniquely designed umbrellas, fit for the princess in all of us!
with beautiful french and ultra feminine design, i simply adore the lacy, vintage look of her umbrellas! i have a black pagoda umbrella by her, with a magenta ruffle, and an ivory umbrella with lacy black overlay and garters, which i used for my wedding photography. it really doesn’t matter what you are wearing when you are carrying such a beautiful work of art!
another local umbrella designer, who i simply adore, is bellaumbrella. their signature bella is a simple, pagoda shaped umbrella with interchangeable handles. a bella signiture has been on my wish list for some time now, and i love the shape of the handles, and use of faux chandelier-like design. the colors are beautiful, and the simple solid emphasizes the canopy shape.
they come in a number of colors with mix and match handles! i love the elegant, classic, and timeless sophistication of these umbrellas, and long to own one! bella umbrella also carries a number of vintage umbrellas, available for rent, and sometimes to purchase. i rented a handful of them to use as decorations at my wedding, which had a bit of a vintage flair to it.
something about using beautiful umbrella on a rainy afternoon makes me feel like i am walking around paris, on my way to a lunch date with great friends. umbrellas have the feel of a bygone era, a piece of anachronistic technology that is iconic, yet seems to be becoming outdated more and more! and umbrellas available at nordstroms or other department stores are simply utilitarian…fold into small and easy to carry packages, and are typically black! in being designed to meet a specific purpose, they loose all sense of being an accessory or one of the thousand little details that speak something about the carrier, or even being a piece of artwork.
folded black umbrellas conjure gloomy rainy afternoons, and are used for times when venturing outside is not avoidable. a cheerful, fun umbrella chosen by someone who truly loves the design means walking outside in the rain just for a chance to enjoy using an umbrella, and keeps us outside even when the weather is far from beautiful. true, it is an extra thing to carry around, it is easy to leave your umbrella on the bus, in a taxi, or simply loose it, but umbrellas are such a fun way to look forward to the rain, instead of dreading its return each season! it is the perfect accessory that combines fashion, art, functionality, elegance, and poise! and best of all, the are fun to use, and beautiful to look at! enjoy the rain with a fantastic fashion statement!
what is your favorite umbrella? tell me about it!
you can check out my favorite umbrella vendors at: