In grade school, I lost a friend forever. The girl’s name was Kathy, and she had the glossiest, longest dark hair I had ever seen. One day, as she bent over the water fountain, I made my best flattering remark on her hair, the highest compliment I could think of. “Your hair is beautiful, Kathy,” I said. “Just like my pony’s mane when I brush it.” We have spoken after that, but not often, and not as friends.
Now, Kathy didn’t understand that horses were my life, back then, and I thought my pony more beautiful than any living thing, Hollywood actresses or glitzy models included. Sadly, she’ll never know that I really did love her hair, and often envied it. Kathy comes to mind because for some unknown reason, I’ve started watching video clips of fashion shows online.
Actually, maybe I do understand why—I’m searching. Searching for the reason anyone would actually wear any of those high-priced, low-necked, flimsy fabric concoctions. And as I perused the fashions, I couldn’t help noticing the ridiculously artificial—and uncomfortable looking—crossover step that the models use. In the horse world, such a step is a difficult dressage maneuver.
In the horse world, only a few elite members of certain breeds could accomplish that. Not unlike the modeling world, I suppose, where starved women with …interesting hair strut their stuff.
Admittedly, I’m as low-brow as they come. I wear polyester slacks, for heavens sake, although years of my mom’s scoldings saved me from jeans and shorts, which are actually both practical and acceptable now. But why purple feather-duster dresses are high fashion, I don’t know.
And evening gowns made, apparently, of separate strips of transparent fabric, falling off bodies in annoying tatters—haute couture? Evening gowns should be slinky, maybe revealing, glamorous—I give anyone that. But where are the romance and glamour in a few bits of strange fabric held together by some improbable accessory? Would the gown “work” for someone who would fall flat on her face if she tried that crossover step barefoot, let alone in clunky heels?
I can’t remember the names of the designers I’ve looked at this season—Ungaro was the most recent, and his models brought Kathy and the whole question of horses and fashion to mind—but none of the products by any of the designers seemed meant for actual human consumption.
Pale, psychedelic, see-through fabric in the work place? I come home full of dry erase marker and chalk no matter what I wear, and that’s when I wipe stuff off at school. Swipe a paper towel across some of these rather…unique fashions, and you might wind up with a Janet Jackson II—the teacher, exposed—kind of disaster. So the designers don’t mean their precious feathers, tatters, and …stuff for the average Joe and Josephine. I can understand that, too. But honestly—would any self-respecting Hollywood type or socialite actually wear designer fashions?
I remember wanting to wear gowns like the long-ago Cher, when I was being bad, or like Carol Burnett, when I wasn’t—Bob Mackey gowns. Now there was elegance and a little risk, but I could see actual people in those. I could see me in those. Now I sit and scratch my head over a clown-look wig on top of a fluff of what seems to be dyed chicken feathers, and I wonder what grown woman really wants the Big Bird look.
And then there’s the horse thing. Those darn, fast-moving model feet crossing over each other. Brings to mind another incident—when I tried to do the Lippizaner’s flying cabriole. The horse, elegant and well muscled, leaps into the air and kicks his hind legs out while suspended in flight.
I tried that once, explaining the maneuver to friends. Leapt into air, kicked my hind legs out violently. Didn’t have hind legs. Fell flat on my face. Somehow, just seeing designer fashions seems a lot like me trying to do flying cabrioles. And watching in fear, flinching, hoping one of those models doesn’t do what many of us would actually do—tangle our feet and fall. The price of haute couture is just a little too dear for me. In terms of money, and in terms of probable loss of dignity!