Monday, April 09, 2007

Calling all crustaceans!

Yes, you, the 100 year old lobsters who have escaped the trawlers and the wide net of commercial fishing to flex your ragged claws and scuttle along with your briny meditations. Did you know you were the sine qua non of surrealism? Or perhaps, shorthand for surrealism’s splashings in the shallow end of the subconscious pool.

Do I love you, lobsters? You betcha.

I’ve always wanted a lobster dress and a table cloth dress; this one does marvelous double duty. In the film version of my life (working title: The Gilded Assassin), I’d wear this red and white shirt waist dress to disguise myself as a café table. In the cinematic version of my life, I’m adept at a form of yoga that involves camouflage, mostly achieved by my ability to hold still and an appropriately chosen novelty print. I’d free a lobster from a potboiler and set her loose in the seaside café with a tiny microphone in her claw. She would record conversations of the various spies in the joint (after all, my life is an Espionage Musical), before heading back to the ocean.

Don’t worry, this isn’t just a walk-on for our intrepid lobster. Especially since Zza Zza Gabor will be the voice of the lobster, and heaven knows she could use the work. There will be underwater scenes where I’ll meet her again. And like Androcles and the Lion, we’ll have a special bond. Perhaps the lobster and I will do a soft shoe number. The lobster will definitely have a whistling solo. Though the whistling might sound a bit like sound they make when boiled, even though it's in dubious taste.

The V&A is currently hosting an exhibit of surrealist objects. If you are in London, you should check it out. Or if jet fuel ain’t part of your lifestyle, read a review here. What is it about the sight of a stylized red lobster taken out of context that just makes my heart sing? As the reviewer points out, how could an apartment based on Mae West's visage not bring a smile to yours?

All of this is really just an excuse to include Salvador Dalí ’s lobster phone, and Elsa Schiaparelli’s Lobster dress (made in collaboration with Dalí ). This was one of the lobster dresses La Schiap Divina made for Mrs. Wallis Simpson, that’s right, the American divorcée who sparked an abdication. Apparently Wallis was not well-liked, what with interfering with accession and all, but the lobster dress was just the frock to turn it all around. Novelty prints make one seem whimsical, was the argument, and therefore more sympathetic. Cecil Beaton photographed her in this dress. I have marched all over Internetlandia, but have not found this photo to post.

La Schiap Divina, before whom I genuflect, deserves several posts of her own, for the edification of goslings everyone. But that’s quite another kettle. Now back to lobster pot.

I did find one of my Holy Grails: a photo of Isabella Blow in Philip Treacy’s Lobster Hat. It’s only the back, but that’s where all the drama is anyway. Alas I couldn’t crop it for you, so she is just at the bottom right and you are forced to look at some 1998 Thierry Mugler catwalk action front and center.

Ms. Blow is a socialite and a designer’s muse. She too deserves a post of her own, though I have long avoided doing so. Perhaps I’m just jealous. After all, I have worn outlandish things on my head. Concoctions of faux foliage and costume jewelry, plastic grapes (but evoking Bacchus, rather than Carmen Miranda), even things that light up (oy, and this was back in the early 90's with some weighty D batteries and a cord that I duct-taped to my back). Why am I not a milliner’s muse, I ask you? I mean, besides the fact that I'm not a socialite, don't have any capital, and don't know anyone who could get me seated in the front rows of fashion shows.

And aren't hats just the perfect accessory for a spy? This isn't a video camera on my head, I could explain, it's a Philip Treacy chapeau.


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