Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Costume Couture

Feeling a bit like a zombie yesterday morning during my usual mundane, unglamorous commute to work, I was grateful to find myself stirred awake by the Monsters versus Sexy Nurses debate in The New York Times Opinion Pages. The contributors touch upon the role of role-playing during Halloween, our fascination with dressing up in costumes of the zombie or sexy feline variety, and the significance of attire and painted or exposed flesh to help us confront death or attempt to defy it. I was reminded of the utterly intoxicating and revolutionary Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the de Young, and the trio of garments that reveal what is beneath the skin. This sequins-embellished bodysuit in particular so boldly yet elegantly maps the heart and veins of a human body, and is the perfect combination of the macabre and the sublime, of the body as a network of pulsing blood and organs and as inherently sexual and divine. Fashion might be many things to many people, but at its foundation is a pure enchantment with the body--the awe of it, the strength and the vulnerability of it, the beauty and the temporal nature of it. I can't say that I am inclined to join the zombie or sexy nurse camp, but I am intrigued by all the possibilities in how we adorn our bodies, what that says about who we are and how we limit or amplify our own self-expression, and how we choose to live in our skin. As unadventurous as I am during this time of year, I can say that I am squarely in the Gaultier camp and, given the chance, would put this risque beauty on in a heartbeat.