Balaclava. A Style Story Vs. A Baklava

November 13, 2019

Also spelled Baklava. Cristina, are we going to spell all the words in the world now? We were telling stories and spelling words, in bed, in the dark, when Inga, my youngest niece, asked me this question, one night. I was putting her and her sister to bed. Two hours passed in a blink of an eye. That’s the thing, we were all blinking instead of closing our eyes.

But come on, who doesn’t think of baklava whenever balaclava shows up? The first time I heard the word balaclava, my mind popped up an animated cloud with a baklava inside of it. Then, I tried to say balaclava again and spell it correctly. Then, say balaclava, spell it correctly and don’t think of baklavas at all. Balaclava and baklava don’t have anything to do with one another.

Or do they?

The name of balaclava comes from its use at the Battle of Balaclava, Ukraine, in 1854. It was during the Crimean War and it was part of the Siege of Sevastopol, lead by the Ottoman Empire, to capture the port and fortress of Sevastopol, Russia’s principal naval base on the Black Sea. British women knitted head coverings for underprepared troops fighting. There you go, knitted headgear to keep the British troops warm.

Long story, but I bet you didn’t see it coming.

Many years later, 107 years later, to be exact, Yuri Nikulin wears an orange balaclava in Leonid Gaidai‘s classic Bootleggers, a short comedy film that brought Gaidai his Cannes nomination. In 1961 that is, in case you’re enjoying your baklava and serotonin is playing a trick on you.

I can’t remember when was the first time I had baklava. It must’ve been over coffee, one day at home, and I must’ve been a teenager. I, still, enjoy this ritual of having a delicious bite over coffee whenever I have coffee with someone I love. Luckily, I love myself, too. Mom said, at some point long ago, that this bite, called baklava, has the perfect size to go with a cup of black coffee. True dat. It’s all in the balance, mmm!

The baklava is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo (Italian dough) filled with chopped nuts, sweetened and held together with honey, developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace, in Istanbul, in the 15th century.

There you go. A picture and a connection.

Why would anyone think of a connection like that? Why not? This is everyday life, to quote Coldplay’s latest album. This is what googling stuff can do to one. It’s so fun! Not as fun as watching movies, but still. Or is it? 

It took some visionaries to put something so unique into thin air, then some other visionaries, a hundred years later, to put it into a movie and it might’ve taken the balaclava a couple of dozen years to turn into a trend, but I believe a balaclava is here to stay forever. A trend that turns into forever is a classic. Not bad, balaclava, not bad. My mind just went straight to baklava again, fyi. 

When balaclava became a thing in the fashion world, I knew I’d known it from somewhere and it wasn’t from the Wikipedia, nor from the Formula 1 races I used to, obsessively, watch with my brother, as kids, at home. Yes, the racers wear protective balaclavas, also.

It was on a night around Christmas, when the whole fam was watching The Bootleggers, by the fireplace, that it all came back to me, I was like Oooooh! and, enthusiastically, started to tell everyone about how this thing became huge in fashion. Everyone applauded. Not. Gucci and Marine Serre are doing it now. I was so happy to revel both in the movie and in the style of it. Yum!

Having a coffee with the love of your dreams and share a baklava, while inside of a balaclava and kissing, outside, in winter, seems like a good moment for the two words to meet, wawaweewa!

Hey, this is Cristina Pavelescu wearing a music cassette sweater, decoding (life) style and writing from wherever, yet always living in OZ, a world I invite you into. To smile in front of our screens (and live one day), put any kind of questions, answer in writing (or imagination) and marvel at fashion which is, in fact, style.


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