Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dances of Vice Neo-Victorian Champagne Brunch

I’m a child of whimsy. Since a little girl I have only felt at home dressed in what some would call a costume. I say “some” because I didn’t consider it as such. A costume is something you wear to play pretend- to be some one else. I never felt like dressing up was a game or a part to play… it was simpler than that, I was being me. As I got older the fanciful desire to be adorned and dressed up never faded (to my mother’s dismay). As soon as I would leave the house it was black vaudeville eyeliner and lipstick. I wore tutus, German barmaid dresses, corsets, buckled boots, top hats, fishnet, and any other absurd thing one could throw herself into before going to her high school full of the predictable cookie cutter yet somewhat friendly peers.

Surely, I would get out of this predisposition before college? Wrong again. In fact, in some ways my penchant for extravagant dress got more serious. I didn’t want to look a part yet I wanted to look iconic. I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and although I was there for Display and Packaging Design, I was surrounded by like-minded fashionistas all wanting to look good and expressive at the same time. I wore get ups mostly, with my trademark “cat eyes” modifying as I
matured. All black was the staple.

Flash forward to today. I still dress up, but every year that gets tacked on to my age, my style becomes more subdued and legitimate. I’m less interested in getting attention than I used to be, but I still yearn for the flair and panache of antiquity. I’ve
adapted a modified 50’s sort of style, with a gothic twist… but every now and then a girl’s GOT to break out her corsetry and feathers, right? Right. Where can I go? What can I do? It wasn’t until recently that I heard of an incredibly interesting gathering of creative souls and their organized events known as “The Dances of Vice”. Key words like “Neo-Victorian” and “Steam Punk” were used excessively. Intrigued, I discovered that their 2009 events were about to commence starting with a “Neo-Victorian Champagne Brunch” it included a fashion show, a performance by the charismatic Voltaire, various brunch sundries, and copious amounts of champagne!

What more could a girl ask for? I strapped on my black Victorian witch boots, a red and black striped bodice, and set off looking like a madam of a brothel from the Wild West- gun holster wrapped around my shoulders and a flapper in tow and headed for the Montauk Club in Park Slope. It was the first time in quite a while that I felt grossly underdressed, and I loved every waking moment of it. There were ladies in brocade, their necks & ears dripping with jewels, feathered hats, tulle bustling, and many a mini top hats brimming with well placed colorful décor. The space was incredibly beautiful, having been built in 1889 in a Venetian Gothic style the Montauk Club provided the perfect backdrop to the event.

The brunch itself was simple. I opted for cinnamon French toast and went straight to a champagne diet shortly thereafter. The fashion show was showcasing the designs of Kristin Costa & Berit NYC commenced and what music do you think they chose for the models to strut to? Why, my beloved Rasputina of course! The models were wearing some of the most beautiful stylized fashion I ever laid my eyes upon, the piece that screamed at me in particular would have to be the Pirate Ship Hat (no doubt inspired by Marie Antoinette and later couture designers) & the bleeding ball gown tribute to Little Red Riding Hood.

The brunch closed with the music of Voltaire, an old favorite of mine from my teenaged years. I never got to see him perform when I was a youngin’ so it was a real treat to close this eccentric afternoon brunch with his pirate shipwreck songs. With an accordion, an acoustic guitar, and drums at hand, we were transported to a port littered with drunken miscreants, wenches, and perhaps even a few pirates all dancing about to his cocksure voice and rhythm. It was a short and sweet set- more like a sampler of his work to whet my appetite; I suppose this is my cue to go see him perform one night! His music is fun, vivacious, and doesn’t take itself too seriously- something VERY important to me when it comes to those of the “gothic” persuasion. I was sad to see it end, but know this- Dances of Vice- I look forward to dressing, drinking, and dancing like it’s 1869 with you in the near future!

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