Bill Tristram and his wife Isold were high school sweethearts. “We knew early on the we wanted to be married,” said Tristram. Tristram enlisted in the Marines right out of high school, and when he returned from his first tour, his girlfriend was there waiting for him. “He walked out of the terminal, wearing his camouflage fatigues, and dropped to one knee right there,” she said, smiling. “I came up with the big wedding idea on the way home, and he was all for it.” Isold’s idea was to have a camo wedding. “He was in the Marines. I’ve been hunting since I was a little girl, so we decided to make it the theme of the wedding,” she said. “The groomsmen had camo ties and vests. The bridesmaids had camo shawls and camouflage purses. I had a full on camo wedding dress made,” she said.
While camo wedding ideas might seem somewhat outlandish, camouflage has long been prevalent in both nature and human culture. It is most frequently studied by zoologists, who have studied camouflage for more than a hundred years. “Background changing camouflage is one of the more common types to be found in nature,” said zoologist Burke Sympany. “Everyone knows about creatures like chameleons that can do this, but it is fairly common throughout nature. Even aquatic species like squid have the ability to change color to blend with their surroundings.” For Sympany, however, the most interesting form of natural camouflage is the one utilized by the giraffe. “The blotches of color on a giraffes coat are actually there to mimic the shadows cast by light shining through a forest canopy,” he said. “It is truly one of nature’s brilliant designs.”
Camouflage also has a long military history, of course. Camo came to warfare during WWI, when the German Air Force attempted to conceal its planes by adding splashes of color to key areas, such as the wings and the fuselages. Since then, armies around the world have created camouflage to suit all manner of environments, including jungle, arctic and desert terrain.
The Tristrams reflect the most recent turn in the world of camouflage, however. Until recently, camouflage purses would have seemed to be an outlandish thought, but camo has officially arrived as a hot fashion pattern in trendy cities and haute couture shops. “Basic black is out,” said fashion designer Mirrha Silvestre. “Camouflage makes such a statement. While you would never want to over do it, simple camouflage purses can take an outfit from really bland to glamorous.”
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