"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fashion And The Art Of Disguise–Reality Is Irrelevant

“Very Pharaonic”, said Jessica Castle. “Cleopatra on her barge, the Queen of all Egypt, but not over-the-top.”

It was very hard for Lancie Biggers to tone down her ensembles once she had been inspired.  If it was to be Cleopatra, then there had to be hints of Isis, Osiris, and the glamor of the East that had seduced emperors.  A gold cat pendant, sitting up on all fours.  Dark eyeliner to highlight her Elizabeth Taylor violet eyes. A tiara….No, that would be too much… but a suggestion of royalty if her dark, black hair could be trimmed just so over her pendant earrings.


Lancie would be hard-pressed to choose her favorite period of fashion history. They were all superb, exotic, and feminine.  She could even identify with Vermeer’s women, trussed and cossetted but proud and sexual.



She succeeded marvelously well, she thought, dressed in a Fifties Dior recreation of Delft 17th century Lutheran probity.

DiorImage result for images vermeer women


Lancie was indeed a woman for all seasons for whom the fashion incarnation of the past was a pleasure and a duty.  Poor Marie Antoinette, she thought, unfairly sent to the gallows, but a model for an exuberant Baroque fashion for the ages.

Image result for images marie antoinette


How surprisingly avant-garde was the court of Louis XIV. So décolleté, so revealing of the royal bosom of the queen.  Such coquettishness in her regard and so welcoming of the attentions of the King’s courtiers!

Lancie’s talent lay in her unparalleled ability to adapt historical fashion to today.  Not only was she able to lower the royal coiffure, transform the ringlets into seductive braids and curls and lose the feathers for just a hint of exotic tinting, but she was able to adapt the style to herself.  It was never enough for Lancie Biggers to approximate the Queen or the Empress of Alexandria, but to become these women.

Ever since the Sixties, the progressive Left has excoriated such frippery and bourgeois excess. A woman’s worth lay in her mind, feminists argued, and fashion was no more than a male, patriarchal means of enslaving women for yet another generation.

“Wrongheaded and ignorant”, said Lancie Biggers as she fitted a blonde wig, a replica of Marilyn’s hairdo when she was at her most vulnerable and sexy.

Marilyn Monroe

Women, far more than men, understood that life was not all angles, engines, and bloody seriousness. God may have blamed us for the Fall, but He gave us more than enough to restore the balance. What man could possibly resist Marilyn’s charms?

This is not to say that Lancie had an axe to grind, a point to prove, or answers to existential questions.  She only knew that men had been suckers for feminine allure since time immemorial, that the key to feminine power was in looks, not brains; and that she would exploit this masculine weakness with art and sophistication.

Lancie was so confident of her sexuality and her ability to convince others of the truth and reality of her image, that she – as a challenge from her gay friends – tricked herself out in flannels, E-boots, and hardware and cruised the bars of Bernal Heights. Her nature…her being…was heterosexual; and yet her disguise, as perfectly put together as the toilette of Marie Antoinette fooled the bull dykes of San Francisco hands down.  She had more invitations for fist-fucking than any ‘normal’ overtures from the straight white boys of Wall Street.

Image result for images dykes in flannel


She came to understand that fashion was power. The fact that she could be anyone at any time was empowering. Not only could she indulge her historical fantasies; but she could manipulate others at will.  From a fashion neophyte and groupie, Lancie became the Hedda Gabler of the 21st century. Finally understanding men’s weakness for feminine allure, the power of illusion, and a natural, God-given theatrical ability, Lancie became the woman she had always dreamed of.  She was fucked by men who wanted the Queen of the Nile, to defrock the Puritan virgins of New England, and to bed the courtiers of the King in their bedchambers. Hewers to reality need not apply.

Reality, she soon realized – at least in matters of sex – had no meaning whatsoever. Oedipus and Freud were right.  Men and women wanted to sleep with their mothers and fathers, and all else was a grand guignol. The whole purpose of fashion was to play out these primal sexual attributions.

Image result for images hamlet and gertrude lawrence olivier


A crude misogynistic joke of the Fifties said that men were so hormonally driven that if you draped a flag over the head of an ugly woman, you could still ‘fuck for Old Glory’.  Puerile, adolescent, and uniformed.  Only the brutish succumbed to such ignorant pandering.  The sexually sophisticated always fucked for Marie Antoinette, Marilyn Monroe, or The Girl With The Pearl Earring.

Studies of the sexual fantasies of men and women are not surprising. To the dismay of feminists, women consistently reply that they dream of being ‘taken’ if not raped, carried off by a white knight on a silver charger and ravished in a cave. Men, predictably, imagine sex with any woman other than their partners or wives. Illicit sex, passionate, drunk, drugged sex. Sex in bathrooms, on verandahs, or in the back of cars. Men’s fantasies, it has been shown, are far more creative. 

When these fantasies are disaggregated, there is nothing surprising.  What Lancie Biggers learned was that men are far more susceptible to the varieties of sexual fantasies than women. For women being carried off and ravished is enough; but for men only the most exotic situations will do; and Lancie was the right woman at the right time.

Sometimes her own fantasies were to esoteric for her own good.  She imagined herself Mme. Defarge, the peasant woman of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities who notched each aristocratic head lopped off by La Veuve in her knitting, but few men or women got the allusion.  Her full skirts, demure cap and rough woolen shawl said nothing.

Image result for images mme lafarge


She wanted to become Miss Julie, Christina Mannon, Beatrice, and Rosalind; but never found the right costuming to portray these strong, demanding women. Bette Davis in Now Voyager and Dark Victory missed the mark.  Marlene Dietrich’s portrayal of The Blue Angel was too remote and foreign.

Image result for images marlene dietrich der blaue engel


When she got it right – she was a perfect poolside Esther Williams, all one-piece, dripping, and gorgeous – she was irresistible. When she matched cultural icon with personality, she had no match.

“Who said that reality reigns?”, she said as she dressed to go out as a Sixties hippie, drugged out, freaky, and sexually available.  Who cared that the Age of Love never made it into the 70s and that most counter-culture 20-somethings went straight.  There was nothing like a khadi décolleté to turn on men of a certain age.

Image result for images beautiful sixties hippie


Image is everything the saying goes nowadays; and nothing could be closer to the truth. In an age of virtual reality and honesty-by-the-wayside politics, the Lancie Biggers of America are in their heyday. “Who cares?” Americans contest and give way to fashion vaudevillians like Lancie.

Fashion is art…and also culture, history, and contemporary pizazz.  We could not do without it.  And without it we would be drab, uninteresting images in old sepia photographs of our grandparents.

Lancie Biggers was a genius.  She understood that there is no there there. We are what we seem.

1 comment:

  1. A gold cat pendant, sitting up on all fours. Dark eyeliner to highlight her Elizabeth Taylor violet eyes. A tiara….No, that would be too much… but a suggestion of royalty if her dark, black hair could be trimmed just so over her pendant earrings. lingerie


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