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Fashion Quest
By Francesca Lia Block

Theresa is a director who was hoping to create a film version of my first novel WEETZIE BAT. She is probably the most gorgeous woman I have seen up close—a tall, slim blonde with a sensual fairy face who was chosen to adorn VOGUE's best-dressed list one year. These are the outfits she wore when I met with her—a baby blue trench coat with jeans and snakeskin boots and a Louis Vitton bag; a dark green T-shirt, camouflage print mini-skirt with frayed hem, high-heeled sandals and rimless sunglasses; faded Levi's and a short-sleeved red and white peasant blouse and red Dr. Scholl sandals. I also saw a picture of her as a bleached-blond punk teenager wearing dark eyeliner and a shirt that looked as if it was made of chain metal. When I told my agent Lydia (a fashion icon and shoe fetishist in her own right) about how Theresa intimidated me, she told me that she thought I had my own unique personal style. I began to think—I am not young, tall, blonde, beautiful, but I can write things that very stylish people admire. I have a creative mind and a fit body, even after giving birth to two babies who look at me lovingly no matter what I am schlubbing around in.

My babies are, surprisingly, my other guides on the path to find my inner fashion goddess. Of course, you wouldn't think so on the surface. As a mom I have even less chance to dress up. On the one occasion when I was daring enough to wear white while sitting on my front porch, freshly manicured and pedicured, reading fashion magazines, feeling incredibly glamorous, my nursing baby splattered poo all over me. But in spite of this incident, my children inspire me. They both have blue eyes full of mystery and sturdy strong little bodies and luminous skin and heart-wrenching chuckles. Their beauty makes me feel truly beautiful for the first time. The wonder of them makes me feel truly worthy at last. I nurture them with my milk; they came from this body. It deserves, at least, to be adorned accordingly.

And there isn't all that much time. Upon seeing an article entitled, "Elegant At Any Age," in one of my favorite magazines, I was struck by the short duration of each decade we are given. I realized that I had lost my opportunity to express myself through fashion in my twenties and my thirties. My forties will be gone in a blink, too. Seize the day—or the Dolce, or the Dior!

Once I was dining with my dear friend and editor, Joanna, at the elegant hotel where she was staying. We were talking about our struggles with issues of beauty and I was telling her about the changes I am trying to implement in the way I see myself and about how important a bag can be in my life now. As I said this I noticed a gorgeous handbag walking past. It was attached to a petite dark-haired woman in a pink and green Pucci top and white pants. The woman flitted over and began to compliment me on the embroidered silk jacket I was wearing. She told us about a book she had written, THE POWER OF BEAUTY, and offered to send us free make-up, which she did! Her charm was like a perfume you savor. I realized later—the fairy of adornment. And she has blessed us.

Well I did find a gorgeous watermelon pink bag on sale a few weeks later, not to mention matching pointed mules with buckles. And I just woke up at four in the morning after a night of nursing to write this in its entirety.

But do you know who else helped me with this piece of writing, this culmination, or should I say launching of my quest? Taylor Thorne and Hedwig.

In college I was introduced to a friend's friend, a short, cute, hirsute writer named L. who drank too much. I liked him but nothing came of the encounter and we lost touch. Years later I received a package from a mysterious someone named Taylor Thorne. Inside was a manuscript, a journal by Taylor, who was once a married man and is on her way to becoming a full-fledged woman in New Orleans. As a woman, Taylor's writing is even better than anything I had ever read when she was L., and so is her hair. But what I loved most about her funny, touching journal is that Taylor knows what she loves and who she is and she is going to become that, even if it means giving up everything. She will try to sell her book and make money to have electrolysis over most of her body. I would like to try to help her find a publisher. She has helped me learn to work with what it is I've got.

In HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, the hero/ine Hedwig says, when her lover finally reaches down to fondle her wounded body, "It's what I've got to work with, honey." And work it she does. In a plethora of platinum wigs, sexy fishnetty glam costumes and lavish red glitter lips. Adornment saves the beautiful, heart-broken Hedwig from despair. At first. But then she needs more; she needs her music. And when she fully owns that, she can be naked and wigless, wandering off into the world, at peace. For Hedwig, becoming meant stripping down and I love her for it. For me, it means dressing up.

I love clothes, okay? I love them so much that I salivate over Dolce Gabana ads as if I am a dieting woman staring into a confectioner's shop window. I lie awake at night thinking of satin trench coats belted with studied ease, elegant white leather bags with heavy metal hardware and Lucite stilettos. I imagine finding the Chanel suit of my dreams in a resale shop. And I hope, before I die, to have at least one original YSL in homage to that great man who once said that any woman can look elegant dressed in a black skirt, a black sweater and on the arm of the man she loves.

Call me superficial. But when my soul is fully expressed by my body, she can leave her dark room, sing her stories out loud and fearlessly dance.

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