Monday, February 23, 2015

The dresses

With my head still under my pillow, body weighted down by flannel sheets and down comforter, I thought I would get out of bed and write a blog post about winter--the dull, dirty, frozen grey winter landscape that just will not go away. It may evaporate. Slowly. But melt? Not this week.

But the sun is shining in the east window of my living room and with the laptop open I felt the call of the dresses. The Oscar dresses, on the red carpet, gathered onto a single web page on the morning after at the New York Times.

Fashionista I am not. I recognize names like Chanel and Karl Lagerfield and Armani, but the commentary on trendy designers means little to me. I just like to look at glamorous gowns, with their boned bodices and flowing skirts, luxurious fabrics, bright colors and sparkles.

Yeah, I know--these women are armored, painted, sprayed, worked over by stylists, tanned, taped and shoe-horned into clothing that can't be comfortable for three hours of sitting through an awards show. Yes, we objectify women. Yes, movies use women's bodies as decoration and titillation. But gosh, the dresses!

It's odd really--men who act in movies come to awards shows in a single costume, a uniform--the well fitting tuxedo. They play it cool. Is this because there are plenty of good roles for them, more access to power? Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper" made tons more money than its rivals. So yes, dress like Clint, still off-handedly handsome at 84.

Women--we have to try so much harder to be noticed. But there's also pleasure in the spectacle. I look at these dresses and imagine myself wearing them (well, some of them). It's Julianne Moore I want to be -- intelligent, passionate, intent on using the platform of the Oscars to talk about Alzheimer's and its victims who are hidden away and forgotten. Maybe it's the contrast between the gorgeous gown and the women's lives portrayed by Oscar-nominated actresses: Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking, loving someone with ALS. There's power there--ordinary life shared, transformed on the screen, the art of it all celebrated with the silk, the spangles and the spandex.

Anyway, that and the sunshine on the giant icicle outside my window may just cure the dull ache of late winter.

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