THE JADED BOULEVARDIER – Taliban Fashion in Starbucks…The NEW Insurgency?

| February 28, 2011 | Comments (1)


As a fan of “Grey Gardens” and the  Edies,  Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, I was especially smitten by Edie the Younger’s wacky, brilliant fashion innovations – travesties might be more appropriate – and ever since seeing the documentary and the musical detailing their eccentric lives, I have looked in vain for her creations to appear on the street. I suppose it could never happen since such figments are not “designed” and sold to the masses; they are one-off fantasies created by  an individual due to madness and economic necessity.

For those of you who don’t recall or never saw either of these productions, the Bouviers – Mother and Daughter – were cousins of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  Affluent East Coast aristocrats, they were the Long Island branch of the Bouvier family and lived on an estate called Grey Gardens. Young Edie Bouvier  Beale was being raised as the debutante who would marry Joseph Kennedy, Jr. whom Kennedy Pere was grooming for the White House. Tragically his fighter aircraft was shot down over Germany during the Battle of Britain. The rest is  familiar history.

Young Edie rotted on the vine, so to speak. Her needy, divorced Mother, Big Edie, shamed her daughter back from New York City where she had begun  what promised to be a  bright career as an off-beat performer.  As the years passed, her All-American beauty morphed into camp glam, accentuated by mad, wonderful fashion improvisations where a shirt would become a skirt and underpants would find themselves being worn as a  cloche chapeau.

This past Saturday found me in Starbucks recovering from a jaunt in Central Park. My day-dreaming over a latte was interrupted by the arrival of a young female customer.  She was one of those rare creatures who possessed not only stunning physical beauty but that indescribable aura that one can only call star power. In my life I can count on one hand the number of star power-endowed people whom I have personally encountered.

Stuck between a latte and a hard place, I found myself incapable of averting my gaze and, much as I tried not to, was compelled to stare at her, to gawk.  Being an inveterate people watcher, I have developed foolproof techniques for staring that allow me to train my eyes on somebody without their realizing they are getting the laser treatment. My staring methods include what I call  the  “Javanese  Averted Glance” – head pointed in one direction while at another angle eyes are  beamed at the target – or the “It’s a Sunny Day Ruse” with  hands shading my eyes in a reading the newspaper posture while I am actually perusing the object of my interest. I should open a School for Sneaks and Stalkers.

In her  mid-twenties and of average height and build, when she pealed off her parka, she revealed a diaphanous , black jumper with plunging decolletage; her two hands carried a total of not less than 20 rings and her footwear was combat. Boots that appeared as though they had actually been to Afghanistan, scuffed and more than slightly shredded.  “Edgy” and “hippy” begin to describe but do not suffice to complete the description of what I was viewing.   Words  are not enough… is all I can say.

But  the piece de resistance was what she was wearing from the waist down. Without realizing it, this charming insurgent did me the favor of standing and walking to the cashier, allowing me to view in full what had appeared to be a flowing, loose-fitting, but artfully folded dhoti-sarong arrangement. Pea-green in color, I suddenly realized what I was looking at was an XXX Large men’s sweat shirt being worn UPSIDE DOWN  in place of pants. The sleeves served as trouser legs and the waist band was still a waist band but in the other direction….you DO see what I mean !?! All held up by a “tribal” belt that could have belonged to a warlord!

My trip to Afghanistan was suddenly interrupted by a regiment of Anne Taylor-clad Upper East Side matrons –  we were on East 86th Street, after all – who arrived in a chattering phalanx not unlike the confused NATO forces milling about that benighted country we are presently fighting in. My edgy insurgent went back to her laptop and earphones. Her porcelain, swanlike throat a thing of rare beauty. Was she emailing Osama Bin Laden ?

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  1. jim arrigan says:

    Great story Sam. Nice to see you having fun.

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