Days of Miracles and Wonders

Every time I worry that we are, in fact, in the end times (trying to remember if , and then beginning, ridiculously, to wonder what exactly would be the best thing to wear to the Apocalypse — certainly it would need a lot of pockets, and of course if you are facing the Apocalypse surely you wouldn't care about eventual lung cancer, but could use asbestos cloth … and would red be too matchy-matchy?) I remember that, even if we are rapidly approaching the time of ; there are consolations; even if the world is running down, we can make the best of what's still around.

Like, for instance, the Internets. Which lets me, with the click of several buttons, browse through an exhibit from the Met back in 2002 — , and see the dresses of another time when some had it that there was no use planning for the next year, much less the next decade; a time when they were going to party like it's 1939.

It always surprises me that mere electrons can manage to carry such treasures to me through wires and waves; treasures nearly as ephemeral as those electrons. How improbable, how ridiculous! What petite main in studio would believe it, if she were told that some American woman would, seventy years in the future, look at this dress–basically over the telephone? She'd stick you with a pin, and tell you to stop wasting her time. The woman for whom this dress was made would snort — she'd believe that in a year, maybe two, her dress would be hopelessly out of style, and not worth anyone's attention.

This dress is black silk satin and black silk net, with sequins. (A dress made of wet toilet paper would probably be less fragile.) And yet — it's still here. Its maker is gone; its wearer is gone; every man who guided it through a foxtrot, long gone: but it's still here. Still here, and since it's in a museum, safe and protected from everything from excess humidity to violent video games, likely to continue to be here, and through various generosities and some very clever engineering, we can up our brass periscopes outside our daily concerns and just, for a moment, look at it.

It might be taken (black birds, so ill-omened!) as a memento mori, but it might also be taken as kind of defiant monument: if something so delicate could abide through such terrible history, why shouldn't we? I'd like to call this a reverse Ozymandias; no but instead, a quiet invitation to rejoice.

Advertisements

0 thoughts on “Days of Miracles and Wonders

  1. that is a gorgeous gown, is the title reference from the Paul Simon song (Boy in the bubble) or did he get it from somewhere else? I just happened to be listening to Graceland this morning.

    Like

  2. Once again, you delight and educate the fashion neophyte (which would be me!) Vionnet, Queen of the bias cut? Who knew? And this dress . . . So yummy!

    Like

  3. Oh, Erin! You are the best. As a perpetually depressed progressive, I can read DAD and find a reason to hope. There will be good things about this wretched empire collapsing. We can emerge from this mess sadder, wiser and better dressed.I’m writing you in for Chancellor of the Wardrobe.

    Like

  4. what a beautiful way of looking at things. i loved this:if something so delicate could abide through such terrible history, why shouldn’t we?:)

    Like

  5. I haven’t heard a reference to Ozymandias since I left college – and in such proper context! Get your stories in print, Erin, we will need them when fashion becomes obsolete and we give in to the trekky or borg one-design-fits-all to remember when clothing helped define our individuality.

    Like

  6. Oh Rebecca, you are so right. Erin surely has the wit and poise of the Chancellor of Wardrobe, orpossibly the Secretary of Stlye/Fashion.Reading Erin’s posts is truly an education for those like myself.I hope I can understand it all before The End. If not,I will be satisfied just to dream of possessing dresses such as this.Very cool!

    Like

  7. Beautiful clothes! But the reason Wallis Windsor’s clothes were so great is that she basically didn’t do anything else with her life except focus on them (and prying jewelry out of her totally whipped husband.) She was a quite disappointing, anorexic and snobby woman who I find less and less admirable the more I read about her. But her taste…divine.

    Like

  8. Vionnet, the Duchess of Windsor, the red heifer, and Ozymandias all in one post–you have outdone yourself this time, Erin! Brava! This is the best site ever. (And thank your for the exhibition link to those amazing Vionnets, Mainbochers, and the rest.

    Like

  9. oooh lil darlin’ i love your post! on a silly note i never thought what sassy dress i’d wear for the end! ha ha ha… honestly gal your site is so darn tooten’ sweet…love the clothes!! stop by my place…cat

    Like

  10. I usually leave it until at least Wednesday before I succumb to apocalyptic visions, but I’m happy to make an exception.Well put, Erin! Wasn’t it T.S. Eliot who said that “Humankind cannot bear very much reality”, which is surely where dresses come in? I don’t think it was a Prufrock quote, but that would have been nice.Have you a begun a “futility” category yet? There should still be enough time…

    Like

  11. Oh my! Wallis and her whipped hubby surely were dressed for the apocalypse. Somewhere I once read of the many difficulties the Duke of Windsor presented during WWII, including a story that had him wanting to turn back to reclaim fine bedding that had been left behind as he was forced out of France. The exhibition photos are wonderful, but I am a little disapointed that they don’t show the shoes or hat that are still “Wallis Blue”.The whole red cow thing makes me think of Miracle, the white buffalo that was born in Janesville. How is it that a deity should be so dependent upon earthly things?

    Like

  12. And she quotes Sting, too. Be still my beating heart…..Erin, you are a genius. But I’m neither first, nor last, to say it.

    Like

  13. This is the first I’ve heard of Lott, the farmer/evangelist. sigh For the record, there ARE smart, thoughtful, tasteful people in Mississippi. And FROM Mississippi. Sometimes, you just have to laugh at (with?) the ones who……aren’t. lolYou should write a book, Erin. Marvelous post. As always.

    Like

  14. What strikes me most is the fact this thing absolutelly ISN’T out of style… Any designer nowadays could be proud to present such a dress, if it were his creation… or at least I would, if I were a designer.

    Like

  15. Thank you for this wonderful meditation and fresh perspective. I forwarded a link to this piece to my husband – a practical fellow not given to looking at pretty dresses on the Net.Liz

    Like

  16. I’m with Cookie up there on the vapidity of the poor old Duchess. She got her prince and there wasn’t anything inside the pretty shell. Reading about her always makes me a little sad….so driven, and after she made the ultimate conquest, so quiet. The clothes, though, were gorgeous and she wore them well.

    Like

  17. In her defense, I think all the money from the sale of her jewelry after she died was donated to AIDS research. Don’t know if this was her idea, but it’s nice she finally gave something back. The thing that sounds really crabby about her is she insisted on strict punctuality and protocol at all the parties she went to (attendance of which made up the bulk of her married life), with everyone bowing and scraping to her and the duke in the Old World Manner. Jesus…GET OVER IT, LADY! Not to mention that the gorgeous park-side Paris chateau the French government lent the couple for their lifetime might have been put to better use as an orphanage, or home for unwed seamstresses or something. (But politicians tend to stick together.) I just don’t note many redeeming features about her.

    Like

  18. Oh dear, sorry…Wallis Windsor’s estate was left to the Pasteur Institute, which first isolated the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and continues to do AIDS research. I don’t know if the bequest was actually earmarked for HIV/AIDS study…but I think I read somewhere it was?

    Like

  19. I love Vionnet! I didn’t know who she was until I started FIT and haunted the Met. Should they ever do an all Vionnet show, we should all converge and toast with champagne.

    Like

  20. I was greatly amused by your first g thoughts–what to wear during the Apocalypse. Not something out of range, though.I really do like the lace dress though.

    Like

  21. Erin, I have to delurk for this post. I’ve read it every day since you posted it and every day it makes me smile and inspires me to create and dream and hope.Thank you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s