Sunday, November 8, 2009

The best costume for the day

As I was watching Grey Gardens for the umpteenth time yesterday, my boyfriend asked me what I liked so much about it.  I couldn't answer at the time, and I still find it hard to respond.  It's a film about a mother and daughter with high-society connections who have gradually descended into squalor.  They are related by blood to Jackie O., yet live in a mansion eaten through by raccoons and cats and piled high with tin cans and newspaper.  The movie is fascinating on many levels, not least of which is the mystery of their past and the relationship between Big Edie and Little Edie.

I am also fascinated by the meticulous way that Little Edie puts together her outfits from random things laying about.  She is famous for the way she fashioned headscarves out of skirts and kitchen towels and any other oddity hanging around, and then casually fastened them closed with a priceless heirloom brooch.  Her outfits might be comprised of a skirt worn upside down or a pair of pants worn over a skirt underneath a pair of stockings, but to her they were the absolutely right "costume for the day."

Of course, the clothes are fascinating, but the women beneath them, so much more so.  The rituals of their songs and dances bind them together and give shape to their daily lives.  There is something really touching in the way they carry on their lives, despite the ruin all around them.

[pics from Patrishka's Open Mouth and amazon]

1 comment:

  1. I just watched the movie, and instantly remembered seeing this documentary as a child. Wonderful interesting eccentric women.