Constant. Sartorial. Wonderment.

Archive for February, 2009

Translations: Bird


Sometimes we realize that fashion can be hard to understand. Lots of things are hard to understand. Chekhov. Metro North time tables. Cereal boxes. A reader alerted us to a recent shopping review in The New York Times’ formidable Style section. She found the review dense, confusing, and devoid of any actual information about clothes. As a public service, we the editors took it upon ourselves to offer up a translation of the offending article. It’s a little service we like to call J.Cruel Into English™

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Envelope of Dreams


We loved the Academy Awards in our youth with a kind of fervor that we otherwise only lavished on our nanny, our pony, trips to the Ritz for tea, the monkey Father brought us from India, and tantrums.  Now, however, we watch every year and wonder if our childhood self could possibly have been so gauche as to enjoy such a spectacle of ego and inanity. Read the rest of this entry »

She Walks in Beauty


He loved her, Martine. But she was a star beyond his sky. Oh Martine, he whispered, lighting a candle in the town square, you are the most famous weightlifter in all of Luxembourg. It was true. She was three times the winner of the Euro-Centraale Lift-Off, seven times the champion of the Cote Basque Invigoracion, and the unchallenged victor of the Luxembourgeois Weightloffte Contesten. And now she lay beautifully on a bower in the town square, surrounded by dozens of Luxembourgian hydrangeas, unconscious since the accident

The government had released two dozen swans to celebrate Martine’s victory in the Grande Barbelline Olympia. And as the swans climbed past the treeline, towards the Luxembourg Alps, one of them became entangled in the engine of a passing zepplin, which fell out of the sky like a hot coal and landed several feel away from Martine, who was knocked unconscious by the swan.

He visited her each day in the town square, hydrangeas covering the nasty swan wound. He cared for her swan wound, which was fiercely purple and smelled like a moldy rose. And when he could feel her breath grow stronger, he clipped the sleeves from her sweater, and pushed two tiny barbells into her palm, each no bigger than a cannonball. Lift Martine, he whispered. Oh you shall lift again!

Martine eyes fluttered open for a moment, but it was too late. Once it knew love, the swan poison was quick.

Fabienne vest in sable. Marie-Laure pant.

Boats Against the Current


The body floating in the pool was a wax dummy. The sleeping shape in the Buchanans’ bed was a bundle of blankets with a paper maché head.

They sailed to Cadiz on the RMS Homeric and made their way to Monte Carlo, where they promptly disappeared.  After a few years they resurfaced in Rome, then Oslo, then Montenegro. They were spotted at a house party on the Isle of Man, and they appear in a photograph taken in 1937 at Stalin’s dacha near Sochi on the Black Sea. He wears a belted peasant shirt and a pince-nez, she a white dress.

They waited out the war in Tashkent. When it was over, they wandered through Asia and Africa and eventually settled on a kibbutz, where they died within a month of each other in 1977, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds.  “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.”

White collar shirt in summit stripe. Launder on delicate cycle in tears for the past. Tumble dry low.

The Youth

The Youth

How do you say “elegance” in Nazi?

Hooded duffel coat with brass buttons and Bemberg lining.

How do you say “My calves are perfection but the Bavarian breeze is so chilly?”

Argyle knee socks.

You know these things.  You are the man with the answers, the man who’s finally found a coat with enough Lebensraum for his delts.  Just because you’re an Aryan monument doesn’t mean you have to stop being a naughty schoolboy.

“Herr Doktor!  Herr Doktor!”

You lift a hand, continue on your way across the sqaure.  Dusk.  Cobblestones.  The smell of mulled wine.  Lights in the windows behind lace curtains.  The clock strikes eins, zwei, drei, vier.  Marta said she would make Linzerschnitten today.

Why did Dr. Strangelove get out of his wheelchair?

He was trying to get a better look at your outfit.

Hooded Duffel Coat in navy. Aran Cable Button-Front Cardigan. Argyle Over-the-Calf Socks.

Tenderness in Turquoise

The lovers met under a chalk white cliff in Cassis. The peasant dress was plain enough, but strung from her neck was a confection in triple-milled enamel, blue like a French laundry van. She wore it the next day, over a plate of spicy moule frites, and the next when he invited her to the cinema. When they made love it caught on the hairs of his chest. Ow, he thought. She wore it in the shower afterwards. He found this a little odd, but kinky. Maybe.

The next day, he surprised her with a group scuba lesson. But I do not know how, she protested. Fernando will teach us, you must wear this wet suit. I cannot, her hand flew to her throat like a vampyric dove. Fernando shrugged, pas de wetsuit, pas de scuba, he said in his thrilling foreign tongue. Then I shall not scuba, she said, and blushed. He adored her all the more for this modesty, though the scuba lessons had already been paid for, and he ended up going anyway and was partnered with a buoyant communications major named Kelly.

When he returned, the hotel veranda was half open; a soft breeze rippled the linen and revealed a slender arm curved over the railing. Darling, it meant nothing. With the knob of her elbow rubbing against the iron, she thoughtfully wove her fingers through the necklace. I want you to remove it, she sighed. Are you sure? The prospect of a bare neck thrilled him and he fumbled with the clasp. It was a tiny screw and a lever that required all ten of his fingers to free and when he did, a great sigh rushed from his lips. At last!

And her head fell off.

Enamel bubble necklace, available in Brilliant Blue, Sweet Papaya, and Turquoise.

Daydream in Ivy

In the morning, she took her tea with milk and two cubes of Perruche sugar. Pushing a pair of clear lucite eyeglasses up the sweet slope of her nose, she pondered the newspaper. Oh dear, her moist brain thought, Rwanda. It was too much; she pulled a handkerchief from her handkerchief drawer and coughed into it, fatally. That day’s work at the Children’s Library was particularly stressful. Two mothers asked the location of the restroom, and an eleven-year hold was caught snorting Adderall in the Under the Sea Storytime Castle. Dinner was a cigarette and an asparagus. As per her evening habit, she plucked up The Arcades Project before quickly setting it down again. This was how she avoided muscle atrophy. There were so many things she wanted desperately from life: the curve of a highball to cool her moist forehead, a goat cheese pizza the size of a hubcap, a bra. 

Molly Blouse in reverse swiss dot. Velvet Secretary Skirt.