Pride commeth before a fall, as the old saying goes, but there’s normally something else that happens before the stock-market crashes, as we’re seeing at present. It seems that while the market gets busier and busier, more and more bullish, and developers develop balls of steel, that tall buildings are the things that truly commeth before a fall; that there is a direct link between ego and egg-on-face-oh. Since the age of the skyscraper, this has always been the way: with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State building culminating at the same time as the big New York stockmarket crash of 1929, the boom of the 80s with a wave of tall pomo buildings throughout Manhatten and around the world ending in the Crash of 1987, and the recent and ridiculous line-ups of tall tales of tall towers in the Middle East and the Far East, culminating in the present calamitous crash in stockmarkets around the world in 2008.
It’s all so predictable, and in theory so avoidable: if the market doesn’t get so swept up in itself, so carried away with the power of its own excesses, then we wouldn’t have the crazy booms, and wouldn’t have the crazy falls. Luckily for us in NZ, so we think, we rarely get that carried away. By and large we don’t have the crazy ego-maniacs building towers, and so in theory at least, we should avoid the catastrophic falls as well. Unfortunately, that one doesn’t seem to apply: we may not get the biggie ups, but we sure get the downside blues as bad as the next country anyway.
Is there any truth in that, and if so, does it apply to Wellington? The theory is that as the economy booms and rises, so does the length of leg exposed below a skirt. The change in the 1920s from long flowing robes at the start of the decade, to daring above the knee fashions as the decade came to an end, coincided directly with the rise of the economy and the rise of the skyscraper. Come the Great Depression and then the Second World War, and hemlines became much more demure once more. Skirts shortened again in the 60s, only to lengthen again in the 70s, and rise again in the 80s shortly before the 87 Crash.
But what about this time? Are hemlines sky high? Is it possible to garner a gander by gender: to gauge the state of the world’s economy by casually eyeing the hem-length of a typical Wellington woman? My reaction is: of course not – there’s no such thing as a typical Wellington woman anyway, and besides, the wind is too great a factor to risk blowing up anyone’s skirt for them to be a feasible fashion indicator. The typical Wellington walk, it would seem, is to have one hand holding down the edge of your skirt – one wonders what women did in years past when they had to hold onto a hat with the other hand too. But of course, fashion (or the slavish following of it) is dead now anyway, as proclaimed on the cover of the latest 1am magazine. Christine Rankin seems to have been the last public figure to have brazenly gone forward into Lambton Quay with legs exposed, and yet she flew the coop some years ago now, spangly earrings and cleavage shining in the moonlight as she speed off down nowhere lane. However, as we move into November, and into summer, perhaps hem length is something that keen followers of the economy should be keeping a fisheye out for.