We are glad to present you the 19th issue of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum Digest!
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What countries will be presented at the Forum? How to take part in a business programme of the V SPBILF? Find answers in a regular column
News of the Forum
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Internationality of the Forum grows every week. Delegates from Belarus, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxemburg, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, Uzbekistan and other countries have confirmed their participation in the Forum.
We are glad to introduce Cornelia Topf, moderator of the roundtable 7.1. Joint Venturing with a Foreign Investor: How to Make a Partnership Work
Cornelia Topf has more than 10 years’ experience on national and cross-border M&A transactions in Germany, country relationship partner of Gleiss Lutz for the Russian Federation.
We are glad to present a new column on personalities, events and trends in fashion and style with a legal focus
This article is dedicated to series about the lawyers
A few words about the author. Lesya Mikhailovskaya – fashion journalist and stylist. Worked as a fashion director in the In Style magazine, Elle, Citizen K and as a creative director of L’Officiel magazine. Now she is a fashion columnist of the Vogue.
I don’t know whether we realise or not that for the past seven years of all the arts, for us the series have become the most important. They are no longer a low-quality potboiler for bored pensioners and housewives, but a full-fledged and even high-professional work of art. Brilliant scenarios, the best actors, excellent OST, and, sure, design and the way of life, evoked in details, which make us fully coexist with characters in the same time and space.
Regardless our personal and professional preferences, series about the lawyers remain the most favourite ones. They always feature a detective element, shown, as opposed to the charmless real life of police, from another perspective. Partly, this office drama – everyday life of legal firms and courts, as if seen through a keyhole – promises fascinating intrigues and thrilling feeling of being involved in a complex, incomprehensible, but still important case. Well, all in all, isn’t an everyday life of lawyers an exciting show? How do they behave, what do they eat, how do they feather their nests and what do they wear? Sure, they are restrained by a strict dress-code and their way of life shouldn’t surpass the bourgeois norms. However, for us, mere mortals, they are a little bit like ‘overmen.’ They determine fates and understand complex cases, unintelligible for the majority of us, and at the same time they drink, eat, go in for sports and bring kids to school, as do all of us. And when this detailed routine becomes a background for a thrilling intrigue, it is impossible to take off eyes.
I love legal series because of all the above-mentioned reasons, but not only. For me the clothes the main characters wear always mean the ‘broadcast’ of the rules adopted in this society in this particular moment and the way how informal fashion is translated to a formal fashion-language. It is always interesting to trace the accuracy of this translation and appreciate the skills of a fashion designer, whether he or she managed to show the character being in line with fashion trends and formal requirements.
My series-life started in 2007 with the series Mad men, where the dress and the design are on the same level as brilliant acting. This series triggered an obsessive interest in the 60es among the most aestetically conscious part of the inhabitants of the globe. After that legal series Suits and Good wife appeared. But I have learned quite recently that in my ignorance I missed a very popular US series Ally McBeal. Terrified by this discovery, I watched all the five seasons, one after another. And because it is a series of 1997, over a distance of 17 years some things have become clear. We believe that the legal world is a constant, invariable value, and it pays no attention to fancy trends, while lawyers are serious people far from being impulsive. But it turned out, however, that this is not true. Just a delusion.
Ally McBeal is a vivid and bright picture of the 90es. And it was a very weird decade, recessionary and neurasthenic, built upon the rejection of success and wealth, cultivating various oddities and deviations. In terms of fashion it was a decade of minimalism on the border with ascetics, denial of any colour except the black and grey, and refusal of everything which embodies sexuality, be it high heels or décolleté. The typical heroine of the 90es seems to never become a successful lawyer. However, the main character of the series, Ally McBeal performed by Calista Flockhart, is an archetype of the 90es. Skinny and big-eyed, she is rather a cute teenager than a pretty young woman. She suffers from nervous deceases, and visions and hallucinations are a habitual part of her everyday life. She is clumsy, always asks inappropriate questions, cannot forget her first love, falls in love with wrong men, wears funny pijamas, and at the same time wins complex cases, one after another.
Sure, this weird girl wears office dress with pencil skirts, but this skirt is always too short for an office employee, and under the jacket she usually wears a T-shirt, as opposed to her old-fashioned colleagues who obviously wear shirts in office. Also, she always has a little bit tousled hair, while her friends in the office are stylishly coiffured. A rich client of the firm, old artist, says, having seen her: “Bring me an advocate!” “But I’m an advocate!” – she answers, puzzled. “In such a skirt?!” – exclaims a client, planning, by the way, to marry a prostitute. In his opinion, this skirt has nothing to do with a status of a lawyer. To be honest, she is always accused in wearing these skirts. Once a lawyer of an adverse party, artificial bitchy blonde, asks: “Ally, pardon me, but how can you wear such a short skirt in a court? I’m asking like a woman.” “Like a woman, we all know, that your teeth are artificial,” Ally answers, mirroring the plastic smile of her antagonist.
Unlike colleagues, Ally is interested in a real life externality. “I wanted to become a doctor, but it’s not that I’m afraid of blood or death, I just don’t like the dress!” This could be said by either a kid or an adult still having a sincere childish spontaneity. Rachel Stanley, stylist of the series, tries to emphasise this childishness.
On Christmas Eve Ally appears wearing red bobble hat, black and red checked scarf and red boots. Lovely girl looking like a heroine of the fairy-tale. And in this episode she tells how she saw a white unicorn in her childhood. And here she is wandering along the snowy stress of Boston in a grey hooded coat and fluffy blue mittens. And camera focuses on these mittens, big and awkward, not on, say, elegant gloves suitable for a lawyer. Of course, everyone thinks she is crazy or, to say the least, a borderline, but this is the trendiest type of the 90es. And Ally McBeal is its perfect incarnation. Her childish sweetness, far from womanly elegance, is a characteristic feature of the decade as are all the other Ally’s whims: participation in the competition to the position of Tina Turner’s backup dancer, floppy hats, and riding scooter in the city. On a scooter she appears in the final fifth season. She wears a fancy tweed coat, she has a fresh new haircut which makes her look older. Now she is a senior partner, she can hire and fire people, and wears a standard black suit with a white collar. The noughties begin – wealthy, successful and quite conventional. This decade will be shown in the Boston legals series filmed in 2004.
But we will talk about it the next time.
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