the girls common room

January 22, 2012

The Gryffindor common room, secured by the oil painting of the Fat Lady in a pink silk dress, will most likely be the first image that springs to mind when one mentions common rooms. Unlike Hogwarts, the University/boarding school in the Jil Sander campaign is clearly an all girls one and as such Mona Lisa Smile might be your first cultural association. There was a time, I have to confess, I had a mild obsession with boarding schools/sharing a dorm room in University – mostly thinking of the life-long bond & friendship you would end up sharing with your fellow ‘inmates’. And so I read The New Girls by Beth Gutcheon, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (which I wholeheartedly recommend) & then last summer Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan (which I only recommend if you’re feeling like a super light read). Where the boys are concerned, there is, if course, the much better Mona Lisa Smile pendant – Dead Poets Society & Alan Bennett’s  The History Boys, which I read on a bus from New York to Boston (host to many a University) two summers ago. All of which evoke a similar sense of camaraderie & perhaps even coming-of-age.

And that’s what I love so much about this Jil Sander campaign – clearly set in an Ivy League college – each picture tells of one such story. After all, these girls are doing each other’s hair, gossiping, lazing around amidst busts of Old Romans in monogrammed sweaters all while nipping on tea & playing cards, or sipping champagne while getting ready to go out, though one of the girls seems to rather want and stay put – solve crossword puzzles & read instead. For more, go here.

(Oh, and just because it also takes place in an academic setting & the audiobook has been helping me fall asleep lately – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is a mandatory mention.)