Is it, by chance, Helena Bonham Carter’s birthday? This begged me to take it out of the closet this morning, a frock very much a la Bonham Carter mode. [We all do know that her husband, Tim Burton, is from Burbank, right?]
The dress is from Stefanel – anyone know of Stefanel? An Italian company that’s done especially knockout knits. I don’t know that it has any shops here in the U.S. but I hazarded into Stefanel in Europe and liked the attitude, as well as the silhouettes, and this one in particular.
The sweater-ribbed knit band at the bottom puts an edge on the frou-frou of the skirt, as do the big hardware snaps on the bodice. [That word, froufrou, or frou-frou, meaning fussy or embellished, or covered with "furbelows." "Furbelows" is one of my favorite fashion words.
"Froufrou" dates to France in about 1870, when women’s clothes were exactly that. Sarah Bernhardt, one of my style icons, starred in a play entitled “Frou-Frou.”
Of course Bernhardt gets to die ravishingly and at length in the play – she had more ways of expiring than James Bond’s villains ever dreamed up – and even though she only performed in French, American audiences ate it up when she toured here. Bernhardt said she could always recoup her fortunes in the United States, and “Frou Frou” helped her to do just that.
This dress, with the taffeta bubble skirt, reminded me of the style worn by Tom Wolfe’s New York society matrons in “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” It’s the magnificently seminal social novel about race and wealth in 1980s New York. Wolfe he called the women “social X-rays” for the bony gauntness they cultivated. If you have not read it, you really must. It lays the groundwork for the lifestyles of the Wall Street rich and notorious of today, and is one of my favorite novels.
The Lucite heel on the ankle boots – "Perspex," as the British call it – gives the effect of floating, ballerina-like, across the floor – an effect I will never achieve in real life, so must rely on footwear to give me a semblance of it.
I coveted the Lucite-wedge shoes that Maison Margiela sold briefly at H&M, but didn’t have the stamina to wake up at dawn and line up at 6 a.m. back when they went on sale, so these shoes gave me a bit of the same look, along with a full night’s sleep.