Fashioning Gals




W

elcome to Hotel Satire, people
and you gals. The Hotel is a place where men are in command and
gals are for decorative draping, like fringe on a lampshade.Yes,
throughout the ages gals have needed others to define them so that
they remain inessential as nature intended—like fruit-flavored
underwear. 


The gals at the Satire Hotel try to follow the tonnage of gal advice
in the various media because we have no clue who we are or what
we want. We found the article (adapted from a book) called “The
New Seasoned Women” in

Parade Magazine

of January 12,
2006 very helpful in that respect. The author Gail Sheehy knows
all about the seasoned gal because she traveled around the country
and talked to some of them. 


It seems seasoned gals are, like a complex wine, “spicy,”
“marinated,” “sweet,” “tart,” “sparkling,”
“mellow,” and “open to sex, love, dating, new dreams,
exploring spirituality and revitalizing their marriages as never
before.” Whoa. Who knew? And also how new! Why has this happened
to seasoned gals? Well, they were “wrapped up in their First
Adulthood, when their focus was on nurturing children, husbands
or careers—or all three.” Now they have reached a “Second
Adulthood.” Gail tells us we can take three paths: sexual revitalization,
new dreams, and spiritual explorations. Isn’t this fantastic?
And so specific, too. 


But let’s face it, Gals, the time when we are most in need
of advice is in the Spring when we have to decide what to wear and
what statement to make with what we wear so we can fulfill our primary
function as decoration. And who better to tell U.S. gals about this
than a bunch of (mostly) European men. 


So, Gals, we are here to let you know what you’ve been fashioned
into this Spring 2006. Oh, by the way, let’s all breathe a
sigh of relief that those feminazis and femiteroristas of the 1960s/1970s,
with their vague demands for self-definition and independence, didn’t
succeed in preventing gals from being decorative objects, like silver
buckles on a handbag or pillows on a couch or antimacassars on the
back of an armchair. But we digress. 


To get the last word on fashioning, we went, of course, to the fashion
news of record, the

New York Times Sunday Style Magazine

.
We could have gone with the

Boston Globe’s Spring Fashion
magazine

, which says gals are wearing prints (zigzags, paisleys,
and flowers), but that would not be the last word, would it? Although
we did like the outfit on the gal posed, inexplicably, next to a
bulldozer. Her Escada blouse was a steal at $895. We also loved
her $325 Yves Saint Laurent belt. The thing is, the

Globe

doesn’t
tell us what kind of look we should be going for, except maybe tough
and surly, plus reminding us to wear open-toed, high-heeled shoes
while operating heavy machinery. They do a bit more defining in
the

Globe’s

“Style Section” with a fashion
article cleverly titled, “The Rights of Spring.”  Here
we learn that if we wear Calvin Klein’s abstract flower dress
or Diane von Furstenberg’s artichoke print on a pair of Bermuda
shorts that we are expressing the “right to exercise florals.”
When we wear Marc Jacob’s stripes we are dressing like a 1950s
housewife and expressing the right to bear stripes. This is good
to know, as we have often wondered how to exercise our florals and
bear our stripes.







But the

Times

is the final authority on fashion matters and
they have lots to tell us. For instance, in the “SundayStyles”
section of March 5, 2005, they tell us that we are “All Wrapped
Up in Reassurance.” The author, Guy Trebay, writes about how
conservative the fall line of fashions was and then reports, “An
unconscious group effort seems to have taken place here [among designers]
to assure the buying public that, far from being a sphere where
transgression is encouraged or difference welcomed, French fashion
remains stable, albeit as clunky as a Frigidaire.” Huh?! We
don’t know what that means, but it must be important or the

Times

wouldn’t have published it, right? Trebay goes
on to tell us that the current collections seem to suggest that
women dress up like unmade beds or elements of architecture or down-stuffed
duvets or flatware. “…or even try looking like Barcaloungers
with colors resembling cervical supports.”  The article
features a gal with an armrest as a coat collar and a gal who appears
to be wearing her bathrobe as a hood. 


Moving to the

Fashion Magazine

, we learn such incredible
things as “Black is the new green” and “Sometimes
a Bag Is Not Just a Bag” and that “bag mania defines our
acquisition-mad moment as surely as tulip fever defined 17th century
Holland” and that Eve was “actually tempted” by bohemian
chic jewelry and “In Fashion, as in life, it’s all in
the twist.” Huh!?








We also learn that the artist Marina Abramovic drapes her body in
Galliano creations, “along with a plastic skeleton to show
that she acknowledges and accepts her own death.” Much admired
by younger gals is the “Louisiana purchase” where designer
Ernest Bellocq combines baby-doll gauzy dresses with New Orleans’
turn-of-the-century “red-light ladies” day look. 


We particularly liked the “Do’s & Donas” collection
of lace, ruffles, and toreador pants because “this spring,
Spanish is spoken everywhere.” We’re not sure how they
know that, but no matter. They title these outfits “La Conquistadors,”
and “Spanish Acquisitions.” Wow! At Hotel Satire we have
long dreamed of having an outfit that says “I’m into murder,
torture, ethnic cleansing, and burning people alive.” 


We also like the “desert bloom” fashions where “you
may not be able to smell the roses, but you can wear them in some
of the season’s vivid prints.” The gal in this series
looked like a cadaver. We decided they were saying that gals, while
wearing daisies, should also be pushing them up. 


Another favorite was the fashion spread about shoes called “better
than sex,” which states, “Not since the 16th century,
when Venetian courtesans tottered about in chopines [high shoes
with thick soles], have shoes been quite this satisfying.”
We couldn’t agree more. Any shoe that promotes tottering, even
outright teetering, is orgasmic, to say the least. We’ve also
found that, when in doubt about what to wear, consult the 16th century
 and you can’t go wrong. 


Our absolute favorite fashion concept was in the spread titled “Agit
Props: and now, three cheers for the rebels and their puckish views
of the world.” First, we have “Militarism” where
we learn that rebellion seems to mean wearing military fatigues!
(Jacket, $1,820; skirt and shoes, $2,430.) In “Survivalism:
entwined in rope, any dress has other implications.” Yikes.
We always wanted to be off balance and tied up. In “Colonialism:
by cutting and draping tartans without a pattern, Rei Kawakubo tells
today’s neo-colonialists: you’ve lost your way.”
Oh, my, those crazy certainly neocolonialists should get a pattern—a
print, florals, stripes, blood splotches, something, for chrissakes.
In “Existentialism: hoping to dissolve the structure of clothing,
designer Martin Margiela finished only one side of the dress, letting
the other melt into a bolt of fabric (for $395).” Fantastic.
Gals as unfinished, draped fabric bolts. Love it. In “Environmentalism:
with his Edwardian jackets in army green and shopped up T-shirt
dresses, Junya Watanabe hoped to invoke the punks, but made a different
statement instead.” Hmmm. There’s nothing like the Edwardian
period to invoke punks and nothing like punks to remind gals that
their purpose in life is to dress up the environment! Much as we
love these spring fashions, we think we prefer the pretty little
Bottega Veneta shirtdress, a $6,800 reminder of June Cleaver. 


Goodbye for now from Hotel Satire where gals are wearing the June
Cleaver shirtdress this spring—along with survivalist existential
Edwardian 16th century Venetian conquistador neocolonialist desert
blooming militarist armchair collar. Or, as the Vera Wang ad reminds
us, gals are essentially dummies for the meaningless draping and
displaying clothes!





Lydia
Sargent is an actor and playwright. She is a co-founder of South End
Press and

Z Magazine

and served on the staff of the former
from 19781988 and on the staff of

Z

from 1988 to the present.