WHILE THE SUMMER SUN BLAZES ON IN BARCELONA, it has begun to feel as if the season has reached its peak and is now on gradual decline. Locals are very slowly back from vacation, tourists are no longer as plenty as in previous weeks, summer sales have ended, and both retail and media encourage thoughts of autumn.
But with the days still long and the sun still high, I won't let go of summer just yet. There are still a couple seafood lunches to be had by the water and there is still over a month of warmth to wear summer clothes in.
Not a beach bum at heart, I skipped yet another beach holiday this year and head down to the local beaches mainly for dining. Despite bothersome tourists outnumbering the beautiful ones, there is enduring appeal in seaside leisure, which in the 20th century, has forever changed our relationship with the sea. Trade, navigation, food production and power generation perhaps never thought it would have such a frivolous industry as "leisure" alongside it, but as tourism and bathing costumes evolved, so have our concepts of the seaside.
Since Gabrielle Chanel's accidental popularization of the tan in the 20s, seaside leisure has washed in wave after wave of cultural phenomena; some exclusive as a luxury resort, some accessible as a game of beach volley. Some short-lived as a summer movie, others as eternal as the bikini. What I wish had lasted: mid-century beach glamor. Editorial images in the 50s and 60s have their share of bikini-clad celebrities, but it's hardly peculiar to see clothes with seams or footwear made of leather.
If this is the leisurely elegance we've evolved from, would it be wrong to devolve back into it?
Elizabeth Taylor 1956, Salvador Dali 1951, Paul McCartney and John Lennon 1964, Catherine Deneuve 1968, Warren Beatty 1965, Marilyn Monroe 1955, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin 1969, Brigitte Bardot 1956, Jane Fonda and Alain Delon 1963. All images from gettyimages.com