Decadent Threads: The Black One

Image courtesy of New York Times (Jan 2022) / Jeremy M. Lange for The New York Times

Andre Leon Talley was known as “The Only One” – a Fabergé gem of an editor quite singular as an unequivocal, unrelenting, and unyielding dictator of taste. Blessedly, I believe, he was also a black man of taste and talent, that paved the way for more than just the black community, but for cultural contributors of all sorts.

I bring him up because one of the most exemplary things that he did for fashion, was admit and emphasize, how fashion was to be taken as seriously as it was to be appreciated for being silly.

And so he revelled in the theatricality of garb – he, himself swanning into fashion shows, luncheons, and even on to tennis courts bedecked in the finest fair styled in his pungent balance of luxury fine and budget best.

Image courtesy of New York Times (Jan 2022) / Evan Sung for The New York Times

I adored him for certifying fashion lovers with the license to be more than perfectly put together, and that’s part of why my outfit of the day is darkly dramatic.

I wanted to lean into the storytelling of fashion – sometimes unpolished, but always intriguing if done right!

As soon as my favourite local fashion house, ERRE, delivered a 2-meter long robe, I had an idea of who I might be in a television drama.

Verdict on my fiction: The black widow!

“The black widow serial killer is a woman who murders three or more husbands or lovers for financial or material gain over the course of her criminal career.”

Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. for Psychology Today

When I shared this look on my social media, I was inundated with responses creating a backstory for this visual.

Immediately, the image spoke of wealth, mourning, and – as I had planned – a smidge of something sinister lurking.

The popularized one-dimensional, fictionalized stereotype of female serial killers who murder their spouses for financial gain, pleasure, or revenge, was reiterated in my snapshot; but more than that, the styling was engaging people, to think about the story and the threads, and what they mean together.

While my amateur photography does not compare to what Mr Talley could orchestrate, I do hope he’d be amused at my attempt – after all: my shoot is doing its part for the feeding scheme against the “famine of beauty” Andre often bemoaned.

The look includes one of the black pieces that’s a recurring part of my streetstyle and travel looks: the multi-design Myri Dress by fashion house ERRE.

It is a dress that can transform into over 12 types of dresses, with the retying of the shoulder strap, and hidden buttons and loops on hems.

It has walked red carpets and seasides – comfortable, chic, and real value for money.

Accompanying the dress this time is the near 2-meter long robe also by ERRE, and made to order.

It features exaggerated short sleeves and all the airs of drama.

I styled these 2 major pieces with a flat top woolfelt hat by fellow South African hat brand Simon & Mary, and since I wanted just a bit more flair and “colour”/pattern to tie everything together, I choose a black & white wearable hand-felted art piece by Afrigarde.

I often think that when people put looks together, they only think of the contexts beyond home.

Very few people dress up for themselves – to amuse, excite, and titillate the more avant grade fashion sensibilities that we all keep somewhat repressed.

My look today was a way to unleash a bit of the drama I keep packed in unless I’m hitting a red carpet. My setting (Boschendal Farm) inspired a bit of storytelling, and I envisioned an ensemble that would darkly amuse.

I hope I did the late Andre Leon Talley, “last great editor of a lost era”, justice.

“The Black One” is in his honour.

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