Friday, 23 July 2010

MUSE My imagination runs away with me.

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station
Every friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander
I stay at home at night
But I don't feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise.

As I sat in the backseat of our family car on long drives, listening to Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, I always imagined things from the perspective of the singer, looking out on the world. I guess I misheard the lyrics because I thought he sang "But I am so lazy, No one to wonder if I stay at home at night" which sounded to me like an odd reason to be lonely.

I'm working on a dress called the Terry Meets Julie dress. It has long been rumoured that the Terry of the song is Terrence Stamp, and the Julie is Julie Christie, who dated in the Sixties as young London scenesters. Ray Davies denies the song was written about the two, but to me it doesn't matter. I found a lot more glamour in my own imaginings, which revolved around Terry and Julie being ordinary, young, working class Mods with clerical jobs. A song so evocative of weariness and ennui beyond that was always the perfect fuel for my teenaged imagination. I would get completely washed away over this kind of thing, just kind of drowned by British pop pathos. The two are meet at dusk on a cold, grey day, improbable happiness in the dreariest setting imaginable, and I like it better to imagine that they are beautiful, but they don't have much of a future, so aren't to be envied from a window above anyway. Just kind of temporarily beautiful, they meet at the end of a grey work week outside a busy tube station, with people hastily rushing home all around them. What I'm designing is the dress that I imagine Julie, fit bird that she is, wears directly from work to go to the pub with her boyfriend. And possibly they drink pints. And play darts.

Forget glamourpuss Julie Christie: I want to dress like a secretary on a date in 1967.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

MUSE Sharon Tate, Part Two.

To me, Sharon Tate is the personification of an extinct kind of beauty; regal, fresh, and doomed to be a personal sacrifice to herald the end of the Summer of Love. She can only ever be doomed, because we can see her with nothing but hindsight, and we know how it ended.

Sharon's last meal was at El Coyote in Los Angeles. El Coyote and I go way back. It's my favourite place to eat in LA even though it's a particularly dire restaurant in a number of ways. It reminds me of something out of a David Lynch movie, moody, sordid and secretive, it feels like an extra character joining every party, sitting shadowy at the table with you. A dark place, velvety, with pokey booth-filled dining rooms where weary seeming serving women swish around in giant skirts, carrying aloft the giant cheesy platters of food. It was the first place I ate when I moved to LA, my room-mate Mike drove me directly there from the airport, and I went regularly after that, usually dragging friends along who couldn't see the appeal in the place, but would humour me anyway. The restaurant seems to gently fold over you, consuming you slowly in a chill way as though the sun has passed behind a cloud.

I didn't know Sharon had her last meal there until much later, and it doesn't really enhance the sense of the place which is nebulously sad, cooling it's heels in the LA heat, shading its clientele in near pitch dark in the middle of the day, with the greasy smell of corn chips in the air. The best margaritas can be had at El Coyote. I know I haven't written a stellar review of the place but if you're like me, and enjoy perverse places with personality and a bit of a story, then you might like it. I have to wonder if it was a nicer place when Sharon went, did they give the keys to the valet? Was it a genuinely pleasant place where ordinary people went? Chic people went? Or did they enjoy the melancholy camp as I do? I wish I could go back and tell her not to go home.

The dress I'm working on is about the way I want to feel in the summer time, inspired by the essence of Sharon Tate: a breezy, leggy A-line mini dress in gorgeous Liberty floral, a way of hinting at the hippy aesthetic without the danger of detouring into gauche prints or synthetic fabrics. Wear it with sandals and pad along elegantly without a care. A summer dress, for a nearly barefoot summer beauty. The sort of dappled soft sun of a summer afternoon, before slipping into a darkened room. The El Coyote dress.

Sharon liked best of all to be barefoot. She wasn't allowed to go to clubs and restaurants barefoot, so she laced leather thonging around her toes and ankles to look as though she was wearing sandals and out she went.

Take a look inside Sharon's wardrobe.

MUSE: Sharon Tate, Part One.

I have to talk about Sharon in two parts because it's almost impossible to talk about Sharon without mentioning the Very Bad Thing that happened to her. I do want to talk about her without going into it too deeply, so I'll just get the horror out of the way first. The worst part of that Very Bad Thing is that it robbed her of her life, but beyond that it also forever linked her with the derelicts and pathetic no-hopers who did the robbing. I always thought it was a shame that not only did Sharon not live long enough, at 26 years of age, to really make any deep imprint on popular culture, but that she would always and forever be associated with tragically lost hope, the end of the long summer of love and a bunch of nasty losers. What they did, in essence, was just kind of smush out her beauty the same way a bored truant might harrass a kitten or pull up a garden bed just for the sake of it. And now she's kind of married to the losers. It must be horrible for her family to have the family's names come up every time Sharon is mentioned.
Are you sensing my disgust? I'm not down with John Waters and the whole idea of paroling Lesie Van Houten.