Friday, June 30, 2006

The Carnival of the Couture, July 1, 2006

This week’s Carnival of the Couture is brought to us by Style Bard, who asks the simple but profound question, “In what clothing or accessories would you like to be buried?”

My first thought, when I read this question, was not of clothing – and certainly not of anything currently in my closet – but of literature, specifically, Mary McCarthy’s novel “The Group,” which follows seven Vassar alumnae from their graduation in 1933 to the funeral of one of them in 1940.

Lakey, the leader of the group, is a rich, beautiful, brilliant, capital “L” Lesbian.* She had chosen the group's members with care, in particular plucking the poor but lovely Kay out of the general student body to add a touch of working-class sex-appeal to the mix. After graduation Lakey heads off to Europe to do her Lesbian thing unfettered by upper-class American mores and essentially disappears from the story until her return to the U.S. on the eve of WWII. Very shortly thereafter the object of her unrequited love, Kay, falls – or jumps, having been driven to suicide by her shitheel husband – to her death. What does Lakey do upon hearing the bad news? She goes straight to Fortuny to buy Kay a dress to be buried in, because Kay had always wanted a Fortuny dress but could never afford one. Lakey was clearly a lipstick Lesbian – and a damn good friend.

“The Group” was required non-curricular reading for all women attending a Seven Sisters college way back when I attended one. In these days of disposable chick-lit, it deserves a revival as an antidote to all that pink-jacketed happy-ending crap out there. Note: to fully appreciate "The Group" the reader should brush up on the social history of, and status of women in, the 30s. Caveat: do not, NOT, ever watch the movie -- your eyes will burn shut and your brain will melt, it's that bad.

Ahem, back to serious stuff: me and clothes. I’d love to have a Fortuny dress, but it would be a crying shame to bury one even though the mystery-pleated fabric might be a great find for an archeologist digging me up 1000 years hence. However, anything else in a classical style would do and be very Seven-Sisterish besides. Perhaps a chiton and veil?

Actually, I abhor the idea of my bones being dug up and studied, so I want to be cremated. My fantasy funeral would be an outdoor cremation on an enormous pyre, so perhaps I should leave instructions to be burned in something Brunhilde might have worn when she rode into the flames to join Siegfried in eternity. If the funeral happened in winter (which would be better lest thousands of acres of bone-dry Nevada brush go up in flames with me) I could be wrapped in my beloved vintage fur coat for an extra Nordic touch. Then I’d want my body and pyre soaked in vodka and ignited by torches thrown by the mourners. With luck, a big wind would sweep down the mountains and blow my ashes to the four corners of the world, to disappear and remain undisturbed forever.

*Lakey gets my "I'd do her" fiction vote; you know, that's the vote a lot of straight women used to give Angelina Jolie before she went all mommy on us.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Las Vegas wedding outfit revised.

When I saw from the long-range forecasts that the temperatures in Las Vegas over the wedding weekend were going to average 110 degrees I decided to save the vintage dress for cooler weather, girded my loins, and went out shopping again. Actually, if I had time, I would have gone shopping in Las Vegas where there’s a clothing store every 15 feet, but because I wanted to reserve my L.V. time for my friends I went back to the only store in the area that carries a semi-decent selection of dresses and started trying things on. I swear I must have tried on 30 before I decided on the washable cotton blend (i.e., okay to sweat in) tropical-patterned dress pictured here.

Is it the designers or the store buyers who manage to fill the stores with hundreds of variations of the same dress, one guaranteed to make me look ridiculous? Practically everything in the kind-of-dressy-but-not-too section was high-waisted and very low cut, bordering on baby-doll, not, I repeat NOT, a good look for a certified grown-up. I did try on a few of that style, on the theory that 50,000 designers can’t be wrong, but evidently I have an oversize rib-cage so that empire dresses in my usual size were too tight around the waist-band, then puffed out unnaturally below. The size larger just hung on me like a muumuu. Nooooooooooo!!!

Even the dress I bought has a seam right under the bust although it’s shaped to have a natural waistline. The dress also has substantial shoulder straps, so I don't feel completely exposed. The neckline, though, is pretty low when filled with me instead of the dainty dress-form. I’m really tired of boobage, but since exposure was inevitable I decided to work it. With the help of a sold-state suspension device, aka push-up bra, from Victoria’s Secret and additional the spandex-enhanced cling of the dress I went to the wedding doing my best imitation of Liz Taylor in her “White Diamonds” period.

My efforts didn’t go unnoticed. As the party was winding down, after the champagne toast with the parents and grand-parents of the newly-weds and, oh, five or six tequila-shot toasts among the remaining rowdy bunch after the elders had departed, the groom, by way of good-bye, went face down in my cleavage, gave my bound and elevated bosom a couple of good squeezes, and announced, LOUDLY, that I had some “rock-hard titties” on me. I think he meant that as a compliment. The next day I had beard-burn on my chest.

Shortly after he made his startling announcement, the bride put him to bed – alone – and we, the women who remained standing, went out for a midnight snack. A good time was had by all.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Trashy Diva Wedding Gown

STOP THE PRESSES! The divine Divas at Trashy Diva have turned some of their best designs into wedding gowns. (Okay, my internet incompetence is showing because I can't get a direct link to the Trashy Diva dresses page, but that's where they're shown.) The prices range from $248 to $400, which is practically a gift in wedding-gown terms. All y'all vintage loving brides-to-be need to get over there and take a good look at the Divas' extra-special stuff.

[rant] And about taking a good look: I am currently trying, again, to break a prenup on behalf of some formerly sweet young thing who thought that she didn't need a lawyer because she had love on her side. Uh, no, it doesn't work that way. If you happen to be about to marry an older, much wealthier man, and he hands you a prenup on the eve of your wedding, what the hell do you think he's thinking about? Not love or the damn guest list, that for sure. So, should you be asked to enter into such an agreement (1) hire a lawyer; (2) make sure you listen to what the lawyer is saying; (3) make sure that future hubby's disclosure of his assets is really full disclosure, i.e., ask for statements, copies of deeds, pay to have your lawyer's paralegal go do an asset search on the guy; and (4) if the prenup basically states that you leave the marriage with nothing, ask yourself, really, really, really ask yourself, if you want to marry a man who essentially is renting you by the hour. [/rant]

P.S. Prenuptial agreements are a good idea when there is an equality of assets and bargaining power, and are a very good idea when an older couple with children get married, to make sure the kids get what they should out of the parent's estate. But that's a whole other rant.

Otherwise, congratulations!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Stephen Burrows is a Designing God!

Stephen Burrows will be receiving a special CFDA award this year, and it's about time.

Burrows, an African-American designer who became famous in the 70s, basically invented the disco dress. That would be the disco dress that went to Studio 54 and was allowed to jump the line to party with Halston & Andy, not the disco dress worn to "Saturday Night Fever" brawls in the 'burbs.

Burrows signature look was a silk jersey dress with "lettuce" edging, like the gorgeous mango number pictured. Everybody (including moi) wanted to wear his clothes, and evidently everybody still wants to wear his clothes because when I went looking for vintage Burrows online there were very few, and many, like the gorgeous mango number, were already sold. And take a good look at the price -- $1350.

As creative and honored as Burrows was (hello! dress in the Smithsonian!), he ran into financial difficulties in the 80s, and basically disappeared from the scene for 20 years. He's made a comeback recently, with Henri Bendel, the store that originally offered his clothing, reopening a Burrows boutique. His spring 2006 runway show was great, but alas, he did not have a fall 2006 show. I hope that was out of choice and not out of necessity.

Swank Vintage has a nice summary of Burrows' life and career. The Washington Post has a story about his comback here, along with a picture of a new gorgeous mango number.

If you should find a vintage Burrows dress, hang on to it. If you wear it, it'll make you happy and beautiful; if you sell it, it'll make you rich.