Dress for Excess

Swannee, how I luv ya...What we know about fashion you could stuff in that beak, but Dodgerblue’s wife would kill us if we didn’t set up a Red Carpet Open Thread, so here it is, to be quickly forgotten at 8:15 p.m. when our real Oscar coverage starts.

If you have cable or satellite, we think E!!!!!!!!!!!!! (damn shift key) is running the preshow, while ABC has a recap at 8 p.m. Someone holler if PETA stormtroopers show up as zany Nazis and threaten to blitzkrieg the Kodak Theatre.


Many thanks. Mrs. DB is Tivo’ing until 4 PM, LA time, but I will try to sneak some peeks now.

Saying it now: if either Frost/Nixon or the Reader wins anything I’m going to be pissed.

Hey, y’all! All is well. Been hanging out with the exmormons recently and will be back soon.

@Signal to Noise:
Prepare yourself. Betting line is that Kate Winslett is a lock. I’m good with that.

Jailbait alert: Mylee Cyrus. Fortunately, her dress is so ugly no one will look.

@Dodgerblue: Why is that child at everything dressed in fugly dresses?
Armpit vaginas on SJP. I’m liking ABC’s bitchy faggeleh.

@Mistress Cynica: does every channel have a female bimbo plus gay guy announcing team?

Freida Pinto. OMG. Anil Kapoor looks just as sleazy as he does in the movie.

If you are over 65, please cover your decolletage.

That is all.


You better be, love, we miss you when you’re gone.

…aaaannnd Winslet shows up in her best Android Dowager look, complete with vacuum-molded hair!

Sure, but will anyone thank their parents for being poor? Cause if not,well, then I ain’t watchin…

@Dodgerblue: Yes. It’s a requirement.
Glad to see Meryl Streep wearing something decent for once.
@Mr. Tommmcatt Poon: How in the hell does she get her hair to do that. Is it by Mattel?

I feel so lost watching this. Ok. So how do strapless gowns work? Is it like an armored breastplate or a shaped Roman centurion shield? Or is it like a mobile room divider, attached somehow and the woman is not so much wearing it as walking behind it? Is it even really clothing in any conventional sense of the word? You know – like cloth draped over a body?

@nabisco: That was a memorable acceptance. I fully expected him to motorboat Sophia Loren’s tits.

@Hose Manikin: Boning, spandex, and tight and uncomfortable as hell.

@Hose Manikin: You have to have surgery to have Velcro nipples installed. All strapless have the hash side of the Velcro strips already installed.

baked must have slept thru her alarm, dammit.

I haven’t seen frosting like that on Matthew Broderick’s hair since my mother’s in 1970.

@Hose Manikin: I think I can get through that because I heart Kate Winslet, but if the Reader wins best picture I will throw things.

A lot of the women have this built-up hair look that looks more like a helmet than, y’know, hair.

The only thing uglier that Miley Cyrus’ dress is her clomping walk. She obviously is not a graduate of White Gloves & Party Manners (where I learned to walk, curtsy, and put on kid gloves properly. Valuable, valuable skills.
Dammit, where teh girls and teh gheyz? Helloooo? I’m dying out here.

There are some really bad fake tans out here. I’m lookin’ at you, Robert Downey.

Oh good that pic you used is from ages ago, for a minute I was like, wow Bjork looks downright conservative these days (comparatively speaking), maybe Iceland’s economic woes have forced her to cut back on eye-gouging color combinations. At least there’s still MIA!

@Mistress Cynica: You should be running the liveblog, Cyn – you’re on fire. Let’s be fair to Broderick tho; he looks better than SJP, doesn’t he?

Vintage Balmain. Dear FSM, the craftsmanship.

SJPs boobs are crying out for freedom.

Versace is almost always a mistake. Marisa Tomei is pleated within a inch of her life.

That Cyrus child needs someone to pick her clothing.

Oh…and during Barbara Wawa’s pre-show event, “Kevin Jonas” said of his barely pubescent brother Joe, “Joe is our front-man, taking a ‘Mick Jagger’ role in the band” or words to that effect. Funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time…

Broderick peaked as Mouse in Lady Hawk…all downhill from there…

@Dodgerblue: She is always overflowing in those strapless gowns. Granted, part of the engineering of it staying up is having it tight, tight, tight, but good god, woman–ending up with the armpit vaginas (look closely, you’ll see what I mean) is a major fashion DON’T.

@LuxMentis: Doesn’t that give Jagger grounds to sue for slander?

Penelope Cruz. Class all the way. And being drop-dead gorgeous doesn’t hurt.

Nice chance to see that dress again. Go Pen…

did angelica huston have a sex change operation?

@LuxMentis: Love her. And Javier Bardem makes the perfect accessory for her Balmain gown.

@baked: there you are! Poor Angelica. Doesn’t help to be up there with Tilda, who does androgynous better than just about anyone.

TF is very sparkly.

Oh…bookshop scene…a clear winner…

verklempt from dustin lance’s speech. bee-yoo-tee-full.
hi cyn! i’ll have you all know, i’m running up and down 3 sets of stairs to comment. i can’t undock my computer fom “MY” room, too many wires to disconnect from the 22′ monitor, so i can’t comment often, i’m already out of beath. the best tv is in “our” bedroom, but i’m here with you all!

hmmm…snowstorm appears to have taken ABC off the air here. So nice to have an excuse to go to bed and read…

@baked: How do you live without a laptop and wi-fi? I cannot imagine….

SJP’s tits are so distracting I can’t concentrate on Daniel Craig, dammit.

@Mistress Cynica:

I feel the same way.

Shouldn’t we be in the next thread?

my laptop in a “docking station” right now .moran that i am, i just figured out all the wire are connected to the station and i can pull my laptop right off. which is what i’m doing now. so far it’s a snoozer. that fat fagela who won for make-up should have to give it back for that obnoxious speech. ok taking you with me back to rat’s nest.

. . . boning . . . docking station . . . heh

I found a Maynard Ferguson record to listen to while I working. Tell me when someone in a strapless starts doing jumping jacks and I’ll tune in.

hi! in bed with rat laptop and plasma!

sarah jessica parker’s dress. one word. ewwww
i missed the carpet, but i haven’t seen a dress yet i like.

@FlyingChainSaw: Live at Jimmy’s? Everything else pales.

@nojo: He does a pretty hot “Maria.”

You see that two members of Chuck Mangione’s road band died in the Buffalo plane crash?

@Mistress Cynica:
danel craig can’t concentrate either, he was fumphin.

@Mistress Cynica: I learned sophisticated deportment from watching Alfie teach it to Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I have found that you cannot over-do it. The more exxagerated and over-the-top you put it on, the more people are convinced its real.

@redmanlaw: The day after the crash, I was in Birdland in NYC listening to the big band that reads classic charts (and new some stuff actually) before the members break off to play Broadway shows that make them real money. They dedicated the last tune to one of the guys who joins them pretty regularly and who was lost on the Buffalo flight.

@nojo: MF Horn. Eli’s Comin and Ballad for Max are really nice charts in their own right. I have Jimmy’s on CD. Lin Biviano is god.

@FlyingChainSaw: My trumpet was an MF Horn, but somehow I couldn’t hit anything above high C. Might have been the braces.

@nojo: Not a lot is written after Eb so you were most of the way home. Who made those? Holton? I dunno. I don’t think I’ve ever held or heard a Holton. You ever heard Maynard’s Message from Newport? On Roulette, the guys who released the Ole album. The ferocity and precision of that Newport band are shocking and the book was really challenging, no easy hot-dogging on these charts. Any of the sidemen could have led the band. Every solo was an omigod moment. Jesus, now you got me all excited. I gotta go find it and I shouldn’t play that record too much.

@FlyingChainSaw: The MF Horn albums swept through our junior-high trumpet section, but I’ve never caught up with his earlier work.

I think my trumpet was a Holton, but I’d have to look it up. Friend of mine trumped me a few years later — he got a mouthpiece from a Tower of Power horn player when they passed through town.

@nojo: He basically helped save, or delay the demise of, the big band format by coming out with a pocket big band with like 12 guys in the late 1950s when a lot of the big road crews were caving due to the economics of running a band of that size. He just pulled the lead player out of the line and threw him in front of the band and cut down on the rhythm and winds sections. The thing roared. The MF Horn albums were mostly ear candy but there is some music in there.

@Mistress Cynica: Darling, so much on which to comment. Brava, cupcake. I see you planting the Stinque flag all over Oscars not unlike those chappies at Iwo Jima.

As to teh gheys: I should think they’re all at Oscars parties. Don’t ask me what I think of such affairs, you don’t want to know.

But let me chase you down here:

Balmain? What could be better? Perhaps Balenciaga in his heyday? Gunmetal-colored silk fabricated with the kind of skill that built Chartres cathedral. But fashion. Hmm. One of the most astonishing frocks I ever saw was at the Met in an exhibit for the costume collection (I mostly disapprove because Diana Vreeland, its first curator, was an essentially trivial woman who trivialized fashion. And BTW, not one word of her autobiography do I believe. But anyhoo…) devoted to the House of Worth. Said frock (term used in an irrepressibly Limey manner to denote a lack of impressment of a pretty impressive ball-gown. In fact an Oscars-worthy gown avant la lettre. The kind of thing Renee Zellweger might wear) It sported a striking black diagonal line. A line so striking that it was a puzzlement till one realized that it had been designed to be worn by a woman on her husband’s arm while entering some grand red-carpet event. He, the man, would be all in black. She, his wife, was declared an accesory by that striking line which he completed. Whatever one thinks of the gender assumptions it was clearly the work of a master. If I remember correctly, he was the first of the great name-brand fashion stars. An American.

Which leads me to Mainbocher. I earned major brownie points in the wardrobe dept in SF who, since they live in the birthplace of my people, really know what they’re doing, by not only knowing of him but also knowing how to pronounce his name. For those of you who have spent perhaps too many hours watching Sport on tv I should tell you that you have not seen scorn to match the scorn of wardrobe queens. It freezes the blood and turns even the strongest erection (I’m looking at you HF) to putty. Anyway, Mainbocher, it seems to me, was the ultimate couturier for Les Oscars since he was ostentatious without being in any way appealing. In case you don’t believe me he was single-handedly responsible for the Hostess Gown. Now wouldn’t everything be solved by putting Nicole Kidman in a hostess gown?

@Hose Manikin: Strapless. David Hare wrote and directed a movie about this very real anxiety that afflicts straight men who do not understand WTF is holding everything in place. Mr. Hare presents the strapless gown as a metaphor for the indomitable courage of the modern woman making her way in what is essentially still a man’s world. If you don’t agree how else to explain the career of Angelina Jolie? The trouble with most writing about clothes is that they never tell you what’s underneath. I believe it’s impossible to understand what a woman is wearing unless you can see her underwear. Case in point: the actress Anne Baxter (a divine woman: Frank Lloyd Wright’s grand-daughter and a pioneering spirit in her own right) once told me (don’t ask why) that there was a secret dept in the studios devoted to underwear which, at its best, was made of the richest, softest silk-satin cut on the bias to support and shape breasts, etc, while at the same time giving the illusion that nothing was there. Hitchcock knew this: see the wonderfully weird scene in Rebecca about the first Mrs. de Winters’s underwear.

What I find more incomprehensible than the strapless gown (by the way, they’re usually held in place by a liberal application of toupee tape across the tits) is the revival of the fishtail ball gown. The degree of skill employed by the cutter necessary to achieve that shape cannot be overestimated. If you think it’s tough to get a well-cut pair of pants these days only imagine the difficulty of finding a fish-tail ball-gown that achieves the correct line: ie the hobble skirt updated. It provides all the evidence necessary that women are essentially weak and only meant to be festooned with ornaments while being fed on pink champagne and sushi. See above re. Balenciaga and Chartres.

@Mistress Cynica: Have you read Marlene? It’s the single best book about stardom, fashion and madness that I know. For example: do you know who invented the clutch purse and why? Read it and you’ll find out. I’ve ranted on about it here before but it’s worth repeating. The chapter on bandaging the hole in Dietrich’s leg that wouldn’t heal and then putting on the rubber bodysuit before finishing it all off with the ‘Naked’ dress and the robe of swansdown is alone worth the price of admission. Your jaw will drop. As it will reading about The Devil is a Woman, in which she is at her most drag-queenish so it comes as no surprise to learn that it was her favorite movie, in which she made the wig master screw the tiny braids of her own hair above her forehead so tight before applying the false bangs that her scalp BLED. Do we have any idea of the degree of compulsion/vanity/dedication involved? She was the Saint Teresa of Hollywood. Read it. I beg you. Written by her daughter Maria Riva.

It’s very easy to feel superior to Hollywood. But we should remember: these are our cultural assumptions given flesh. We are what they look like. Not you, nojo, but the rest of us. They are our dreams. I guess that’s why we like to mock them. But I’m telling you, if you’d just written/directed/acted in/designed something which just won such an award I bet you’d want more than the 30 seconds they allow to express your thanks. Every movie is a start-up business done from scratch and created out of nothing.

@Mistress Cynica: But you’ve been on fire here, angel bumps. I haven’t watched the show because I know that Hugh Jackman will never come back to the theatre now he’s so big and butch in the movies even though I have such a good part for him (srsly: Hugh: Darling: get your people to call my people. We need to get you back in a dance belt pronto) But I bet it hasn’t been as much fun as your postings. Armpit vaginas? Thank you for sharing. We all get old. Poor Matthew. We have a lot of paintings by his mother Patricia. She will be very much sought after.

@baked: Darling. If you’re running up and down stairs for god’s sake put down the vodka. Think of the furbabies. Are they there?

OK. What’s better than watching the Oscars? Spending an hour writing about why you’re not watching them.

@Benedick: *curtsies*
I will definitely check out Marlene.
I saw an amazing Balenciaga exhibition at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile at the Louvre. One of the jackets had been taken apart to show the workmanship–absolutely stunning. I stood and stared or ages. As for undergarments, there was a ’50s couture exhibit at the V&A that showed not only the New Look dresses, but the insane contraptions one hat to wear under them–hip pads, caging, corsets, general torture devices. It forever cured my dreams of wearing those clothes. Like the great Marlene, women knew how to suffer for fashion in those days. Glamour takes more than parading around in stripper shoes.

@Mistress Cynica: Fashion means women: it defines how we look at women. ‘Feminine’ is constructed. How that’s done is wonderfully interesting because it tells us so much about ourselves now. Eg: Is there a real difference between corseting and the modern mania for working out? Women do it to make less of their bodies: men do it to make more. One of my most treasured memories of the musical theatre is that of watching six gay men show Pia Zadora (a sweet, generous woman) how to be a slady. A slady is a cross between slut and lady: that most desirable of American women. She had to be carried across the stage above their heads (like a lamb to the slaughter) before being set on a table. All of this happening as part of a choreographed musical number. The men had to show her (and that story about the audience shouting “She’s in the attic!” when the Nazis broke in when she was performing Anne Frank in Vegas is a lie) how to manage her dress (William Ivey Long. Feh) so she looked like a lady while behaving like a slut. Otherwise the chance of her giving the first three rows a pretty detailed gynecological exhibition was pretty extreme. But those boys showed a real living woman how to be ‘feminine’. How to work her dress so we didn’t see too much of her crotch and how to land on the table while still in a bevel: that synecdoche of all that is woman. As before noted, the theatre is all about skills passed on one generation to the next. It was my privilege to be allowed to witness the idea of what defines ‘woman’ being handed on by a bunch of gay men. And I think this is what fashion does: it defines the boundaries of our culture. Hollywood fashion is a parody of the real thing. Which is why it’s so interesting.

And by the way, I don’t know why but the creation of theatre costumes is an entirely neglected art. In C4U the final costume worn by the heroine cost at least $15,000 to make. And every time it was worn it required hours of work to stitch it back together. Not an ideal but still: it said something about values. And in that show the women wore panty-hose encrusted with rhinestone diamonds that cost $60 a pair and could only be worn once. As they were pulled off they tore to pieces. Where are the sumptuary laws when we need them?

My point being that the ostentatious decoration of women in clothes that both define and restrict their bodies is a subject that requires serious study. Costume shows us what we think of who we are. eg. In Bollywood the men can hardly manage to keep their shirts on yet they never kiss their extremely beautiful women. WTF, people? WTF?

@Benedick: I once wanted to do a PhD in the semiotics of fashion. I probably could have sold that crap at UC Davis or Santa Cruz. I love “slady.” The guy who owned the store where I bought most of my clothes in my 20s and early 30s described my style as “sophisticated slut.”

@Promnight: “sophisticated deportment”! You do have a wonderful way with words, sir. Bravo, bravo!

@Benedick: @Mistress Cynica: You two are amazing. I have copyedited academic books about film and images of women from feminist and semiotic and god-only-knows-deconstructionist?-Marxist?-(Frog-think)??? viewpoints, but the two of you have said much more in far fewer but more telling words in this comment thread alone, never mind your triumphs in comments past.

@Mistress Cynica: @Benedick:
i have a lot to say on this subject. from the age of kindergarten i have been obsessed with my wardobe. i had very specific tastes. read: expensive. only the finest natural fabic, precise tailoring, and exquisite cut/design. it has only grown with every year. polyester makes me sneeze when i see it on the tv. i would never wear anything with a logo, ugh. or a t-shirt that said anything.

as for undergarments. they are essential to the clothing you put over them. my favorite story about flo zeigfeild is that he spent as much money and attention to his folly girls underwear as the costumes the audience could see. this is a crucial point of how a woman feels and carries herself, he righty believed the fabulous underwear would add extra sparkle to the girls…and why i spent $250. just yesterday on two french bra’s to die for. i wore one today under a favorite cashmere sweater and it definetly put a bounce in my step.

as for practicality, it makes sense to buy expensive well made peices you love. made better, they last longer, you never tire of them, you wear them out. i collect clothes like some collect anything they love. covet them and wear them for years and years. except cashmere tends to wear out, i have to replace my cashmere robe every 2 years or so.

cyn, sophisticated slut would aptly describe my taste. nothing overwhelming, quietly sexy . it makes me feel right in my skin under the raw silk, polished cotton, silk velvet, pima cotton, suede, all classicaly designed. with sex appeal. i also collect shoes and antinque whiting and davis tiny metal purses from the 20’s. i never wear anything that would ever “go out of style.”
every scarf i have, i knit myself. working on a FABulous one right now.
ok, i’ve come clean with my obsession. i like smoking pot too.

ADD: all you have to know about me: clothes, books, music, movies, animals, writing and laughing.
not in order, equal.

forgot loving my friends AND BROADWAY!!!!!!!!!!

@lynnlightfoot: Thank you. But remember. I deal with this at work and we look at clothes and think “What do they mean? What story are they telling?” That’s what costumes do: they tell stories. I’ve ranted about this before but think of Irene Sharaf’s magnificent design for Anna in The King and I, all peach-gold silk. (And if you think that fabric didn’t cost like thousands a yard you’re wrong) Now think what Shall We Dance would be without it. Clothes tell the world who we want to be. Obviously. But what’s fascinating is how they define roles. It’s a pet theory of mine that stand-up comedy, far from being iconoclastic actually works to define the boundaries of our society by pushing against them the better to show where they are. The modern mega-church minister is the other side of the coin. And fashion does the same: it defines gender and class. The current fetish about wearing labels is only works when others recognize what the logo means: how does Hermes announce its fabrication? Subtle. Only other devotees will see it. I once had a pair of Chanel sunglasses (don’t ask: a story about a wonderful friend and her gangster boyfriend and crates falling off the back of a truck) anyhoo she gave me a pair. And I have to say they were not only uncomfortable but ineffective at cutting down the glare. But you knew they were real by blowing on the lens when the CC logo appeared. The only time they were ever remarked on was by a black teenager in LA when the OH and I were riding the bus to Santa Monica. He got the logo.

@baked: I have a pair of Franch gaberdine bell-bottom trousers I bought in London back when that I have not been able to get into for years. But the cut is beautiful I can’t throw them out and I don’t know anyone slim enough to wear them. 29 waist. Sigh.

@baked: PS. Darling. You do understand. This is the definition of Princess. Just so we get that out in the open.

@Benedick: Our “office manager” wears Chanel. I assume she knows where the bodies are hidden.

@mellbell: Ah but is it real Chanel or a Hong Kong knockoff? Or even a Flint, Michigan knockoff? Hard to tell the difference. My sunglasses were so crappy that it was hard to believe they cost the better part of $700 in the store. Wait Wait! They were Cartier, not Chanel! Silly me. With the hideous C shaped hinges and such as. Well. Even more to the point that black kid in LA recognized the Cartier logo. At least he wasn’t gay. Only gay men and baked ever recognize the Chanel suit.

And I note that “office manager” is in quotes. Am I to understand that she is in reality an incompetent slut who is fuquing her way up the ladder?

The detail I always loved about Chanel suits was the thin chain they sew into the hem of the jacket to insure it hangs straight.
I dated and was madly in love with a guy who owned a clothing store–very high end but no obvious labels, like Oxxford suits. He was the gayest straight man I ever knew, and taught me much of what I know about quality construction. When it came to how well something was made, he put Ralph Lauren on the same level as the Gap, as they were made in similar sweatshops in Asia. It is workmanship that — back when I could afford it — I was willing to pay for, never labels. As Mama said, there’s something tacky about wearing another person’s initials.
I’m sure the classic suits I got when I was seeing him would still be wearable these 20 year later, if I were still a size 2. Ah, youth.

@Benedick: Not at all, it just strikes me as a needlessly important-sounding title for someone whose primary task is to keep the copiers, printers, and fax machines running smoothly, and doesn’t even do that very well.

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