Merry Christmas! Last week, while you were enjoying the first buds of spring, I was up to my eyeballs with Yuletide cheer. Horrifying though it may sound, I actually spent a significant part of the week agonizing about the holiday displays at Barneys. April is the month when we retailers strategize what is known in our business as “the fourth quarter,” that magical time when we rake in the lion’s share of our shekels.
Inspired by the magnificence of the Camilla and Charles nuptials-I’m madly in love with Camilla, but we’ll get to that in a moment-I have opted for a regal theme. Come next holiday season, we will be devoting an entire window to the depiction of married life chez Chuck and Cammy with waxwork caricatures by Robert Grossman. Adding an additional je ne sais quoi to this window will be a selection of the much-talked-about photographic portraits of Alison Jackson.
Ms. Jackson is the British artist who has made her name taking fake black-and- white surveillance-type photos of celeb look-alikes. You may have seen her famous photo of the queen on the loo, or-my personal fave-Elton John receiving colonic irrigation. Rumor has it that Elton, very much to his credit, loves his portrait and delights in shoving it in the faces of appalled dinner guests. If you’re not familiar with her work, I suggest you treat yourself to Private, a collection of her photos published by Penguin. (It will be available from naughty publisher Taschen this fall; or venture to Amazon.co.uk, where it’s currently a bargain £6.39.)
Last Tuesday, I met Ms. Jackson for tea at Barneys. Unlike so many successful artists, she was neither dour, humorless nor pompous. Ms. Jackson was in fact warm, hilarious and creatively uninhibited, almost scarily so: When I suggested a scenario where the Charles mannequin is lolling in the bath wearing his crown while Camilla is scrubbing his back, Ms. Jackson was quick to up the ante: She suggested that, for one day only, she will direct a live scenario-a veritable tableau vivant-in our window, using her own troupe of look-alike models: “Let’s have Charles taking a pee? And let’s have Camilla sitting on the toilet in a really cheap black nylon negligee.”
I cautioned her repeatedly about the need to be holiday-appropriate, effectively becoming Jerry Falwell to her Larry Flynt. Eventually, Ms. Jackson and I reached an accord on all issues. With the exception of one: She is less than enthusiastic about Camilla Parker Bowles, and I am the latter’s biggest fan.
Yes, I have fallen totally, madly, screechingly in love with the new Duchess of Cornwall. I cannot wait for her to become queen. She is everything an English toff should be: batty, bumbling, horsy, jolly, frumpy, tweedy, unstylish, amiable and a bit out of it. I am completely and utterly baffled by the antipathy toward her.
I have to confess that I watched the entire ceremony on CNN and found it infinitely more enthralling than the 1981 Diana nuptials. (Did I imagine it, or was there loud booing and a lady yelling “BITCH!” at the top of her lungs right after the civil ceremony?) When the Archbishop of Canterbury got to the bit where he absolved them of their “manifold sins and wickednesses,” I even got quite teary. This union is a huge victory for the middle-aged people of the world: We are, finally, back in vogue. Youth culture is dead! Tara Reid is finished! Old trouts are back! Long live Camilla!
Re the Dutchess’ personal style: Have you noticed that the English upper classes dress exactly like midtown Hasidic ladies? The commitment to the shoulder-padded styles of the 80′s is seen equally in both communities. The only difference between these two groups is the headgear. While the Hasidic ladies favor wigs anchored by velvet headbands, the English aristos go for highly inventive hats recalling the excesses of Christian Lacroix circa a decade and a half ago. These chapeaux are, if the crowd at the royal wedding was anything to go by, divisible into two distinct categories: the twitchy, feathery ones and the architectural ones which seem inspired by the Sydney Opera House.
Re Elton John: I cannot believe that he wasn’t on hand to do a retooled version of one of his classics, e.g. (to the tune of “Daniel”):
“Camilla is leaving tonight on a broom …. “