Recently, I had the honor of watching one Dita Von Teese perform on a Tuesday at Happy Valley, surrounded by queens, goths, impersonators, and — it’s true — Marilyn Manson. A bit of history here: Miss Dita is a famous burlesque performer who recently married the infamous Mr. Manson at Castle Gurteen in Ireland, an event covered by none other than Vogue. Dita wore a heart-stopping royal purple wedding dress by Vivienne Westwood and a drool-worthy assortment of English countryside’ ensembles, all tweed blazers and fancy caps.
Thus, you can picture my jaw dropping when, crammed against two very skinny boys in short shorts, I craned my neck over the balcony to see my new girl-crush perform an elaborate burlesque act around a flashy carousel pony. Truth be told, I was inspired: not only by her deft dissembling of several layers of pink-feathered corsets to reveal a twinkling thong, but because, for ten ethereal minutes, I remembered what it was to watch real showmanship when it comes to dress.
Hollywood, that grand dame of sex, fashion and showmanship, seems to have given up the ghost of its fashion icons of late. The great style mavens are either retired somewhere sipping martinis or skipping off to Australia to get engaged, only appearing on red carpets looking overly pinched and — I’ll say it — stuck up (Nicole, Nicole, you were my hero!). The new generation that’s meant to replace them has no sense of good old-fashioned glamour: Lindsay Lohan is too immature to pull off a Valentino gown; the Olsens looked like homeless people who stole the Badgley Mischka gowns in those advertisements; Sienna Miller should never have made the cover of Vogue; and Jessica Simpson should abandon her couture efforts and go back to cowboy boots and jean skirts.
Granted, I shouldn’t need someone on the west coast to inspire my fashion habits, especially when the women whose style I genuinely admire walk next to me on the street every day. That said, Hollywood, the fashion world and those of the world of excess have never looked like what any normal person could really emulate. Show business and fashion (as much as real estate — as Trump has proven) are about showmanship: elaborate exercises in fantasy.
Perhaps everyone has become disillusioned, but I feel a pang of sadness every time I get more excited to see what Mariah Carey and Gwen Stefani are wearing at the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami than I do watching Jennifer Aniston and Catherine Zeta-Jones at the Oscars. I’m not saying “bring back Cher’s 1986 Oscar ensemble,” but someone should let J. Lo loose! What happened to that plunging dress that took all the press away from then-boyfriend Diddy’s crime scandal? Or Liz Hurley’s safety pin outfit? Is Paris Hilton what we’re left with? Get some balls, oh ye women-with-the-money-we-don’t-have: We here in the gutter would always rather be looking at stars.