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.

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