Friday, December 29, 2006

The prints that launched 93 posts. These are among the ones that got away.

These two items were my primary inspiration for this blog. I wish I had documented who was selling them, but alas I did not. I saw them both over a year ago when I began to think more and more seriously about vintage novelty prints.

The suit is, if I remember correctly, and Yves Saint Laurent 70s mimicking 40s. It was too small for me and totally out of my price range. But I am still in love with it. I imagined a future with us together, going to cocktail parties and art openings. Brief separations when it went to the Dry Cleaners and joyous reunions for opening nights at the theater, or standing room only at the Met for The Magic Flute. I imagined all the conversations we’d start, that musical suit and I. Dreamy sigh. I know, I know, enough already. Is it yours? If so, please send me a picture of the two of you together somewhere fabulous. I’d love to post it here. I just hope this suit is happy, even if it’s not with me.

The shirt is utterly thrilling men’s wear and I wish I had gotten it for Rudolpho or Spartacus. It made me desperate for a chess print dress or skirt. (If you see one, would you let me know? The closest I’ve seen is a remnant with the Queen, Jack and King cards printed on it. Not half as classy as chess though.) I love the small chess boards and the large knights and rooks. If this is your shirt, I’d love to see a photo of you out on the town in it.

Happy New Year, goslings! I’m cooking up draconian New Years Resolutions that all involve novelty prints. Could 2007 be the year I find the ultimate novelty print? Can I finally conquer the scarcity mentality (also known as poco-loco) that keeps me buying $15 dresses but in mortal terror of an investment purchase? Can I once and for all overcome my compulsive shopping problem, and like the archetypal French woman, only buy 2-3 gorgeous dresses per year? Can I get it together to get a better job, implement Operation Snooze, and finally sell all the vintage stuff I’ve got that’s too small? Maybe I’ll learn to play the ukulele, perhaps take Arabic or Japanese classes? Stay tuned goslings!

Last year I decided to take a photo of my outfit everyday. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for a year already. I gotten better as a photographer, and it was interesting and meditative to do something everyday come hell or high water. But now I don’t know what to do with the photos. They feel kinda personal to put up on a blog, but I must do something with them, no?

For New Years Eve, I like to listen to Die Fledermaus. I can’t make it to the Kaiserball in Vienna, but a little Strauss and champagne might ease the pain. I’m sure you’ve got some fabulous plans, so have fun and be careful out there. My father, who was a bartender for decades, always called this holiday Amateur Night. I'll be back after the New Year.

Have your cake and eat it too. This vintage novelty print fabric brings sweets to the sweet. Dotted with bonbons, sugared fruit, and some bizarre confection shaped like a rooster, this print looks like a pastry shop’s window display. Who knew that olive green, yellow, orange, pink, red and chocolate brown could look so good together? I especially like the drawers with the little white knobs and the open shelves providing straight lines among the curves of the desserts.

There are 9 yards of this delicious stuff at 15 bucks a yard. If I could sew, I’d turn this into a trapeze-styled mini-dress and wear it to Café Roma to chow down on cannoli and tiramisu. I don’t know that I would be able to avoid the temptation of carrying a handbag shaped like an ice cream cone, a cake box, if such novelty handbags exist. But there is such a thing as too much whimsy, I fear.

Two months ago a fashion spread in my favorite Japanese magazine So-En, showed dangerous amounts of novelty. With the caption: No Animal No Fashion (just like that in English) a slim belted shirt dress printed with horns and hunting dogs was paired with riding boots and a leather purse in the shape of a dead duck draped across the shoulders. And there were many other examples of complete ensembles geared to a theme. (I regret not buying this issue, but I have trouble plunking down 30 bucks for a magazine.) Perhaps there is no such thing as too much whimsy. Or maybe I should just move to Japan, and get a job at So-En. But how, I ask you, how?

Salon has an article on Calorie Restriction, called “Diet your way to a long, miserable life!”. Ms. Rebecca Traister describes these folks who live on 1,200 -1,400 calories a day in the interest of longevity. Most people in the eating world (as opposed to the non-eating world) definitely eat too much, no surprise there. A few less calories won’t hurt. But a life-style devoted to weighing food on a postal scale would make it hard to live in our current world. That is, if you work a job, and don’t have the time and energy to devote to planning every meal in advance. On the other hand, the North American diet is total crap. And no one really knows what the ideal diet is for humans, though people are very devoted to their ways of eating (to the point of arguments and name calling). The mainstream media pumps out ridiculous articles touting studies of dubious scientific inquiry about food and nutrition all the time. Feh. Who knows what to eat anymore?

Though I still eat fish sometimes, I stopped eating other meat over a year ago. My health has improved, but it has been a challenge with my over-scheduled life-style that also involves travel. I’ve been shocked to find places in the U.S. with no vegetarian options whatsoever. I’ve also found people who are entirely unsympathetic about it. Add to that the fact that most available food is loaded with chemicals, preservatives and sodium. To paraphrase Network: The air is not fit to breathe; the food is not fit to eat. I’m mad as hell, yes. But I still have to eat something.

My fantasy is to live in a world where all food is good for me.

As for longevity, again: Feh. Who wants to be 140? I’m 37 and my feet hurt. Not to mention all my foibles and limitations that I already find annoying; another 100 years of clutter, procrastination, and the best of intentions all gone awry? Please, no. Ms. Traister points out that you gotta have some serious cash to survive that long. You think Social Security will still be around? Ha!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Let us now praise Gemma Jones, an Australian-based fine artist who created this painting. Using images from vintage ephemera, Jones presents the everywoman of yesterday as a star in her own right. Her paintings have a contemplative quality. Don't you totally want one? She also paints on dresses that are pop art fabulous.

In an interview with Uppers, Ms. Jones is quoted:
“I find it interesting that fashion is often seen as non-art … that it is perceived as superficial, transient and basically for suckers and in the same breath constructed as particularly feminine. I like to explore a point where art and aspects of feminine culture overlap. Equally I'm interested in realms such as craft, decoration and domestic interiors which have been thought of as feminine concerns outside of art.”

To this I say: Hear, hear!

Check out more images, including paintings on fabulous 60s styled trapeze dresses (modeled here by the band, The Shimmys,) here.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happiness is a warm gun. Pull the trigger for three different settings to blow dry your hair. I’d love to hold this to my head every morning. And the old-time western design of the gun only makes it more whimsical. But alas, I can’t actually blow dry my hair; it just makes the Jew ‘fro bigger and angrier. But in the movie version of my life, (a musical, of course, in which I am a spy with a camera hidden in my cocktail ring and ninja-styled action involving dresses that match the wall paper, or blend in with the vegetables at the farmers’ market) this novelty blow dryer would be something of a running gag: people would be threatened with it, various characters would point it at others or hold it to their own heads. Finally it would be thrown into an overflowing bubble bath to kill the villain.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mind-blowing Japanese-inspired novelty print. Just look at the details on the kimonos. With glitz sprinkled throughout the print and a sequined empire waist, this frock wants to go to the opera, or dance with you on New Year's Eve. What I like most is the restricted use of color. While there are many hostess dresses with long multicolored skirts in a variety of prints, the restraint on this one makes it unusual.

It is a smallish medium, and at $45.00 an investment piece. Have you started your personal Polyester Museum of Fine Art yet? In the waning days of 2006, why not get cracking on a museum of your own? Don’t have 45 bucks? Why not have a fundraiser for your future Polyester Museum and send out fancy hand-written invitations to a cash bar event at your local wateringhole? I mean, unless you are independently wealthy like Peggy Guggenheim, you gotta look for endowments for your museum.

Who articulates your rage? I am paraphrasing, of course.

I tend to be isolated from mainstream media for the simple reason that no one articulates my rage there. But the heroic Twisty Faster articulates my rage indeedy. So dash on over to blame the patriarchy and read some Valerie Solanas.

I love Twisty Faster. It was around this time last year that I discovered her blog. She has a wonderful way of giving voice to all my fury and misgivings about the patriarchy. But alas, I wonder if my devotion to vintage novelty prints just ain't helping the cause. Though I write about clothing, clothing from an era when women had it even worse, still I can subvert the way in which women and aesthetics are perceived, no?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Give them the Oo-La-La. Wouldn't this fabric make a terrific skirt. Alas, there's only 18x 37 inches of it. Looks like this seller has other goodies too.

Yes, I am aware that Urban Outfitters (Pfui! Yes, that's onomatopoeia for spitting.) has a border print dress with the Eiffel Tower on it. I've seen it around. But it does not thrill, no it doesn't. And I will not link them, so you'll just have to take my word that it ain't worth the $48.

Why not spend your cash on Blossom Dearie instead? She tickling the ivories and giving her distinctive song stylings at Danny's in Manhattan. She's really got the Oo-la-la.

Never on Sunday. This musical Greek-influenced novelty print skirt is a steal for $25. If you've got a 25" waist. Hurry up and get it.

And I totally swear that Illya is wearing a novelty print skirt in the opening scene of "Never On Sunday". Handkerchiefs and ladders perhaps? She is running and it's so hard to see the print. I pressed pause several times but finally gave up. I haven't seen the whole film yet, but Melina Mercouri is fabulous. But why (oh why?) did they need an American character at all? Her scenes with him read like something from Joan Crawford's Rain. Now I don't think that prostitution is empowerful, it ain't. But Illya doesn't seem like she needs saving from herself. I sure hope she triumphs in this film, but am worried that she won't. I'll let ya know when I'm done.

Meanwhile, something strange is happening. Everywhere people are carrying big shopping bags, or putting up strings of lights and tinsel, and often they are drunk. Sometimes they are wearing very ugly red and white caps. I think there's some holiday for Gentiles going on, I forget what it's called. I think it starts with a Ch or an X; I never know how to pronounce it. Anyway, I hope the Gentiles' holiday is over soon because it seems to be stressing them out. Everyone's all grumpy on the subway and stuff.

Juvenalia: Kids on the farm. Normally I don't like agricultural prints, but the kids, dog and colors are very harmonious. The cow looks very intelligent. A super-duper small skirt (W22" but somewhat expandable). Lovely illustration design. Available for $9.99 in Austrailian dollars, the postage will cost you more than that.

Loving the Low Country in the Windmills of My Mind. Fabulous Netherlandish print for your nether regions.

Windmills? Check. Tulips? You betcha. And women in those Dutch hats that point up on the sides (what the hell are those called, this keeps coming up): oh yeah.

It is a mere $14.95. Alas, it’s a child’s size. The biggest the waist will go is 22”. Are you super petite? Do you have a little niece who loves novelty prints and longs collect the entire world on circle skirts? (Uncle Monty, I'm a 28" waist, just in case you find yourself at the flea market this weekend and you see a beauty like this one.)

A Light in the Piazza or a Death in Venice? Thrilling 50s Italian Renaissance novelty print circle skirt. Just look at that cute fountain. Doesn’t it look like something out of a Dr. Seuss illustration? And doesn’t our little strutting courtier look like he stepped from the pages of the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins? The color combination really sends me: cobalt, orange, bronze and chartreuse so yummy together. The slashes of white for clouds: so whimsical.

I’d twirl around in it while singing “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from “Kiss Me, Kate”.

This one isn’t cheap, goslings. It’s $129 plus shipping. And the waist is a super small 26”, but since the print is low along the border, you could easily open it up and move the waistband down and give yourself a few more inches. You owe it to yourself. Just because I never treat myself to a real investment piece, doesn’t mean you should deny yourself. Go get it, this would look adorable on you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bananas are my business. Terrific 40s illustration style on cotton. This is delicious novelty, goslings.

Glorious 1940s tropical print dressing gown, sized medium, would make a fabulous evening dress. Wear it on New Years Eve. And why not pile on the bangle bracelets in tribute to Saint Carmen Miranda? Go get it. And yes, it ain’t gonna be cheap. This is one is worth it.

And remember to genuflect before the altar of Saint Carmen. Helena Solberg's documentary shows how she struggled to undermine the stereotypical image that Hollywood glued to her. While copies of Busby Berkeley’s psychedelic “The Gang’s All Here” are not to be had for love or money, we still have “Nancy Goes to Rio”.

Monday, December 18, 2006

He wasn't called the Master Printer for nothing. Alfred Shaheen was a genius. Just look at these novelty prints. Now this is novelty done right.

Both dresses are mediums. Get your bamboo and birds here, your red village, here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another one that got away. Totally my size. Totally my style. And totally out of my price range. This quaintly fishy frock showcases some google-eyed sea creatures on the verge of early late 50s early 60s illustration abstraction. I like the mix of turquoise, fushia, red and gray. I love the silhouettes of the little black minnows darting among the larger fish. But I don’t have the $175 asking price. If you're flush, you can find it here.

The Sartorialist is having a contest. It appears to be an essay question: describe the influences on your style. Post your style essay and you can win a signed copy of "Sex and Words" by Bruce Weber. I am tempted to cross post this one:

Poverty has had the biggest impact on my style. I cut my teeth digging through the bales in down town L.A.’s used rag trade. Even my brownie’s uniform was vintage 50’s (a shirt waist dress complete with a full skirt and someone else’s den number that my mother and I painstakingly altered). Though I am the girl who can spot the one cashmere sweater in the Goodwill, I’m not always looking for the pony in the room full of shit. If you want it cheap, that means you want what’s out of style. I used to browse fashion magazines to figure out exactly what no one would want. Remember when you couldn’t give sweater vests away? I reclaimed polyester decades ago when outré shirts printed with King Tut or the Milky Way were only 25 cents.

Now that I am no longer exactly an ingénue, and no longer mind-numbingly poor, I try to look for things that are a bit more becoming and appropriate to wear to a day job. But overwhelmingly I still choose vintage dresses in super loud prints. And I get a weird flight or flight response (elevated body temperature, racing heart) whenever I buy anything that costs more the 20 bucks. Though I think about dropping real cash on one or two investment pieces per year (vintage designer, or 40s rayon novelty print dress), I never do it.

Well, I could go on and on. What do you think: is this a winning essay, or should I try another track?

Happy Chanukah, goslings! Enjoy the gelt!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nautical novelty for your inner Pirate of Penzance. Crisp black and white print with a very unusual high collar on what would otherwise be a simple shirt waist dress. I love the black buttons down the front, and the ¾ sleeves. I’d prefer it if one of these little seaside towns was on fire, and one of the ships hoisted a Jolly Roger, but no matter. I’d also love to track down the etching this was copied from. But (drat and fie!), it’s too small for me. The auction ends in 9 hours, and this beauty is currently weighing in at $9.99.

This post is an homage to Ms. Fuzzy Lizzie. She collects travel prints. Trawling the internet looking for novelty I found her blog, and these drool-worthy photos of her exciting collection of travel themed novelty print circle skirts. They are thrilling so do check them out.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Go ahead, have a coup and set up a puppet government. This cheerful vintage novelty print puts the world on a string and takes you to the circus. It’s a tight squeeze with a waist of 26 inches. But free will don’t come cheap, kiddo. This circle skirt will set you back $99.

The clowns evoke a strong early 60s aesthetic. I like the way their arms and legs are splayed out as they hang all over the skirt. But the monkey is my favorite with his curled tail and little pink face. Taken as a whole, I especially enjoy the way the strings are positioned diagonally across the skirt.

I’d wear this with very turn of the past century-looking Victorian-style lace-up black boots, and either a black turtleneck or a close-fitting jacket. I’d wear it to interview United States Senators. Or to debate the fine points of Schopenhauer’s “On the Freedom of the Will”. And if anyone dared to tell me that I create my own reality, I’d give them this quote from the text to chew on:

“Everyone believes himself a priori to be perfectly free, even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life... . But a posteriori, through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns...."”

So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Libertines! I mean, Libertarians. Necessity being the key word in this quote. Ah, necessity. All the things I’ve done for you. And you called them choices.

I just finished reading Amanda Davis’ “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me”, a well-written page- turner about a teenage girl who runs off with the circus after a horrendous episode of sexual abuse and a suicide attempt. Though initially repulsed by the cover which proclaimed it “Elle Magazine’s Book of the Year” (for 2003, I am presuming), I remembered that women’s magazines, though in thrall to the notion that lip gloss can transform your life, do offer some moments of resistance and this was one of them.

The novel is a fast-moving tale that not only does a great job of presenting depression and dissociation along with the aftermath of sexual abuse, but it also explores the way traumatic memories are repressed and how they surface. The protagonist, Faith, has created a mental doppelganger to comfort, cajole, and advise her. Though Faith is frequently in conflict with her, and refers to her only as “the fat girl”, this imaginary friend is both wiser and braver than Faith. It is she who ties together the fragmented memories of the attack and helps Faith take revenge. Psychosis is always a good touch, and of course “the fat girl” is herself; nonetheless, this alter ego is dominated by a conceit of constant messy and almost libidinous eating that in confronting Sizeism ends up unintentionally re-enforcing Sizeism. At that point, Ms. Davis leaves the bodyimage issues in a nasty tangle. The female body and its size remain, as graduate students used to say, problematic.

I was worried about second half of the novel that concerns the circus. My father’s family were carnies, and knowing the hardscrabble existence it is, I am often frustrated by bowdlerized depictions of it in popular culture.

Had I read the acknowledgements beforehand, I would have had no fears no that account. I would have known that Ms. Davis spent a season traveling with the Bindlestiff Family Circus (and gives a shout out to Scotty the Blue Bunny, how I adore him). The circus is shown as the dysfunctional family that it is: constant infighting and shifting alliances. Not to mention hazardous working conditions. And no pay beyond meals and a bunk. Our heroine literally carves out 9 months of circus duty shoveling horse and elephant shit. Oh, there’s tinsel among that sawdust, don’t worry. But the novel offers no solutions, easy or otherwise, and is appealingly bleak. Yes, appealingly. But then, I’m Goth like that.

After finishing the novel last night, I was saddened to discover that Amanda Davis was killed in an airplane crash in 2003, leaving behind only this novel and a collection of short stories.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A star is born. It does not get better than this heart-stopping rayon novelty print with custom details. B36, W28, H46. I expect bidding will get fierce as this auction closes in under 3 hours. Go get it.

There are so many reasons to swoon over this frock. The print is exciting. The way the stars are partially outlined in white gives the print depth and movement. Although it’s always hard to access color with photos, the combo of blue, brown, bronze, and what appears to be chartreuse is exquisitely early 50s. But the devil is in the details, so let’s worship Satan for a moment, shall we? Look at those precious, time-consuming insets, both at the waist and collar. They are thrilling, architectural and super flattering. Also, it might be an optical illusion, but it looks like the stars get smaller around the waist inset, making the waist look smaller. And who, with the exception of my wasp-waisted friend Death Starr, doesn’t need that? Now the piece de resistance: some brilliant, driven, detail-oriented soul actually cut out individual stars and sewed them to the insets with what looks like an embroidery stitch and embellished the appliqués with a bead or stud in the center. Novelty print with matching novelty appliqués, I am plotzing.

It’s vintage rayon for crying out loud. There’s an international shortage of the stuff. Not to activate the conspiracy theory part of your brain, but I think someone is hoarding it.

It would look so cute on you. If you buy this dress, would you send me a photo of the two of you together? I just want to see this dress happy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

By George this circle skirt slays me. Dragons of every sort make this skirt mythical. As with most surviving circle skirts, it’s super small (W 26). I like the parchment-colored background and the variety of dragon species, but am hard- pressed to determine the other elements of this repeat pattern. Are they rocks, or clocks? You tell me.

I’d pair this skirt with a closefitting jacket of purple, ideally with leg of mutton sleeves. I’d be tempted to add an 80’s gold charm of a unicorn to this magical mélange. I’d absolutely wear it to confront my personal demons like back taxes, clutter, and commitment phobia. Maybe this skirt would have the power to march me straight into the office of the nearest cognitive behavioral therapist. I don’t know what ails you, but if you’ve got 16 bucks, go bid on it. Maybe the dragon is your totem animal and this skirt will help you contact it. Probably not, though. But it would look awful cute on you.

Because I’m an avid second run movie-goer, I saw “Little Miss Sunshine” with my dear friend Modesty Blaise last week. I had avoided it previously since it looked like one of those we’re-quirky-but-still-a-family narratives that just serve to bolster the status quo. Though that’s a good summation of the story’s trajectory, what I actually found was a meditation on winning and losing in North American culture. Since the faded art deco second run movie house was virtually empty, Modesty Blaise and I were able to cackle as loudly as we wanted.

Self-help rhetoric is introduced right away as the father of the family, played with bow-legged earnestness by Greg Kinnear, attempts to sell a 9 Step Plan that is equal parts Anthony Robins, common sense and utter nonsense. That his own career is failing underscores the fallacy of capitalism’s spiritual axioms: that you create your own reality, that if you want something badly enough you will succeed. And I just love to see the wind taken out of those sails, boy howdy. New age gurus as the worst sort of parasites who prey on people most desperate to change their circumstances. They take the focus away from the political problems that have put the middle class lifestyle out of reach. If we only think of changing ourselves rather than our government, will we ever have universal health care? I think not. Or even representative democracy? How’s that for a laugh?

Why not try out the you-create-your-own-reality slogan at the barricades in Oaxaca? I don’t think it would endear you to anyone. Fight on, Oaxaca!

Okay, now for the spoilers: everyone else’s dreams go down the toilet too. And the film doesn’t offer solutions, it just watches them wash down the drain. The characters confront the demise of their dearest hopes, understandably, without aplomb. When the teen-aged son Dwayne, played with marvelously passive-aggressive body-language by Paul Dano, finally comes uncapped, he emits truths so painful everyone needs to deny them. Even Dwayne himself. The fact is, in a society that only values the victors, we are all losers just deluding ourselves as we train for some future greatness that’s always out of reach.

Alan Arkin transforms the one-note bit-part of the sleazy old grandfather into a hoot, though I didn’t miss him when he checked out. Steve Carrell as jilted Proust scholar, gets some good Proustian zingers in there. But they got more screen time than the two women, Toni Collette and child actor Abigail Breslin.

But perhaps the greatest delight came from the soundtrack: whistling solos! Yes, western-themed whistling solos by composer Mychael Danna.

I am still compiling the grand list of whistling solos so stay tuned.

More whistling solo sightings. I recently saw Lage Raho Munna Bhai, a Bollywood tale , sequel to Munna Bhai MBBS, in which a gangster impersonates a history professor in order to win the heart of a radio personality and is aided by the spirit of Gandhi. Really. I couldn’t make that up. Played by Sanjay Dutt, the gangster is convincingly rough around the edges, though Mr. Dutt is getting a bit long in the tooth to play a romantic lead. This is schlock, yes, but the infusion of Gandhian principles is well-done and adds some gravitas. But the best part: whistling solos. The soundtrack is full of them. The composer, Shantanu Moitra, said he used them to convey a carefree feeling of youth and friendship. In this soundtrack the whistling solo is even combined with that great Bollywood mainstay, the drinking song. That’s my next list for sure.

I can see the compilation now. I’ll call it “Drunken Bollywood”

Street lights and signposts to light your way. Perhaps, like Diogenes, you need a lantern to help you find an honest man. This lovely circle skirt uses embroidery on white felt and bakelite buttons to invoke the streetlight’s glow. But it’s the button moon hanging off center above this street scene that steals my heart.

Another exquisite offering from Vintage Lucy, and currently weighing in at a hefty $144.99

Friday, December 01, 2006

Another one for the Polyester Museum of Fine Arts. Exquisite Aubrey Beardsley drawings. One is, I believe, a costume sketch for Sarah Bernhardt, and on the back, it looks to me like Salome with the head of John the Baptist, absolutely the perfect novelty print for your bum.

This cheery frock is a small to medium and you can get it here.

I am currently on vacation. This means that instead of blogging, I am out there pawing through the racks at a vintage store near you. I'd love to have a live feed of novelty prints from around the world, but don't have the equipment. If I just had a tv show, or a philanthropist with a big fat endowment check for the Polyester Museum of Fine Arts, then you'd get novelty prints everyday and all the time. Is that too much to ask for?


Doesn't this fabulous dress look like something by Sonia Delaunay-Terk?

Another stunning celebration of the vegetable kingdom. This dynamic dress is a medium (B37, W31) and still has its original belt. Bids are currently super low, so go get it.

There are so many things to like about this print. The unraveling red (or are they rust colored?) bows allow the asparagus to fan out and tumble free, creating the illusion of movement. The asparagus themselves are realistically rendered, almost turning this dress into a trompe l’oeil. In this frock, I’d be tempted to lounge about on tabletops and call myself a low calorie smorgasbord. I know, I know, women are always described as food, a hot tomato, a bit of cheesecake, so I am entering into fraught territory. But doesn’t this vegetable shake up that paradigm a bit? And why is it that only women are allowed to wear flowery prints? Perhaps we should boycott flowers altogether and celebrate the vegetable. It’s not the revolution, but at least it’s a start, isn’t it?

My dear Uncle Monty is a great devotee of all things vegetable. In his well-appointed flat, he is a master of vegetarian ikebana. Cauliflowers are artfully arranged in vases with a radish or two. A carrot, he is fond of saying, has mystery. Uncle Monty would absolutely plotz if I showed up for brunch in this lovely frock.

Uncle Monty and I have long been co-conspirators. At my sister’s wedding, when she threw the bouquet at my head, I vowed to Uncle Monty that I would never marry. But if I were forced to do so, (to keep my parents out of debtors prison, or to save a friend from being deported to Sierra Leone) then I would carry a head of broccoli rather than flowers. That way whoever caught it would get a decent meal out of the nonsense.