or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Skirting the Issue

I don't know what it is about bad clothing that launches people to such heights of inspired bitchery, but two of my favourite blogs are about clothes: Go Fug Yourself and Project Rungay. And the proprietors of the latter wrote a comment on my blog! It's like getting a personal bull from the Pope, if he were funny and witty and gay and not a fist-faced old bulldog. Guys, if you're listening: when this season of Project Runway is over, do us all a favour and start blogging about Season Two. I know it's out on DVD and you won't have the element of surprise, but it'll still be wonderful and it will give all us addicts a regular fix of your very own brand of sharp, never-quite-cynical humour. (Also, I want to hear you make fun of Santino Rice.)


I was reading about Greek clothing for no other reason that I wondered what the name of the muse* of fashion designers would be if there were such a thing (I've decided she should be named Charmeuse, which works on so many levels), and this page informed me that "women would sometimes wear a shorter decorated tunic, a peplos, over their chiton [which is to say tunic]". "Peplos"! I know that word!

Sort of. I know the word "peplum", which, if you are a knitter (as I am), shows up from time to time. The peplos was a short tunic: the peplum--the name is as obviously Latin as "peplos" is obviously Greek--is a short skirt which, in its modern incarnation, is so short as to be merely a frippery, a little ruffle added to the bottom of a woman's blouse or jacket.

It's the Latin version that gave its name to an entire genre of movies. Known in English as the gladiator movie or the sword-and-sandal epic (the fighters always seem to wear those little skirts), the peplum is the Colosseum version of the spaghetti western: cheap, tacky, and Italian.

* The Muses, as you might know, gave their name to the building that houses the works of art they've inspired--the museum. However, the verb "to muse" didn't derive from them, though it was almost certainly influenced by the word over the centuries: originally it meant "to sniff about" because it is, in fact, derived from the word that also gave us "muzzle". Only much later did it come to mean "to be lost in thought", possibly as if waiting for a Muse to arrive on a Pegasus, bearing inspiration.


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