Pray for Paris...privately.

Raise your hands if you or someone you know updated their profile picture with a transparency of Green Red and Black for Kenya’s flag back in April when this happened? Did tumblr change their icon? Did Spotify alter their frontpage?

My point isn’t to take away from the unfathomable grief being felt by people all over Paris, but Bandwagon Mourning is such a trite expression of this Western need to present an image of concern and compassion for tragedies that “unite” us when the victims are from “important” places founded by white people.  

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“It’s not fair!”

“You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.”

How do you mourn an icon? How do you grieve for a human being you never knew personally, yet who had such a profound, palpable influence on your life? How can it hurt so much when you never even met them? Are you really mourning for them or for everything they meant? Or is it a little bit of both?

I don’t usually feel a gaping ache when a celebrity passes on, but this, David Bowie’s passing, it’s different. Bowie swept into my life when I was about six or seven I think, in a shower of glitter and leather, as the Goblin King Jareth in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. I know this film was sort of a footnote in Bowie’s career, but my ladies who grew up in the eighties and nineties? I think you know where I’m coming from…

Music, artistry, presence, Bowie had it all. When I was coming to terms with my own bisexuality, David Bowie was one of the first examples I latched onto, someone who was real, someone who had talent and drive and never let anyone else define him. “No, he’s one of us, he’s amazing and he’s ours.”

He swept in, and he never really left… until now.

And it doesn’t feel fair. Not at all.

Mourning Ensemble

1870-1872

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is a mourning ensemble for first mourning, or deep mourning, worn within the first few months of a loved one’s passing.  The most important thing here is the veil: long and totally obscuring the face, which comes in handy when you don’t want the world to see your ugly cryface.  It’s made of a special textured fabric called crape, which has no luster.  Taffeta was also a popular mourning material.  Decorations are minimal.  All the other accessories a woman might have, like handkerchiefs, gloves, shoes, and parasol, would all be black for mourning.  She might have a small piece of memorial jewelry, (btw, hairwork jewelry wasn’t automatically mourning jewelry.  Hair jewelry was a common way to show affection and keep loved ones close.) but otherwise jewelry would be minimal or not worn at all.

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Collection’s Highlight: Purple Moiré Silk Dress

Jane Gaston Wood (?-1907) a Quaker of Aurora, New York married Reverend Edward Taylor (?-1902) of Lee, Massachusetts on October 6, 1847. Jane Gaston Wood wore this purple silk moiré dress in a photograph commemorating her 50th wedding anniversary in 1897. The train on this piece is quite simply breathtaking. The lighter spot seen on the back of skirt is light damage from the garment’s time before it became part of the museum collection. 

Bodice, 1895-1897, Mme DUBOYS, Rue Lafayette 85, Paris, Silk, L:16.5in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Mr. Edward Taylor, N0154.1954.

Skirt, 1895-1897, Mme DUBOYS, Rue Lafayette 85, Paris, Silk, L: 62 in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Mr. Edward Taylor, N0154.1954.

If you know someone who has…lost anybody who’s important to them, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that’s a great, great gift.
—  Elizabeth Edwards
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Collection’s Highlight: Purple Moiré Silk Dress 

Jane Gaston Wood (?-1907) a Quaker of Aurora, New York married Reverend Edward Taylor (?-1902) of Lee, Massachusetts on October 6, 1847. Jane Gaston Wood wore this purple silk moiré dress in a photograph commemorating her 50th wedding anniversary in 1897. This dress is possibly a half mourning dress note its deep purple color and black accents. Clearly, she was not a widow at the time she wore the dress, but perhaps she was in half mourning for the death of a child or sibling. Without more information about Wood’s life it is hard to know for sure.To be in mourning during a celebration of 50 years of marriage seems like a difficult undertaking. However, this elegantly executed dress carefully covers the white lace with black- in a way merging the two events into one. 

Bodice, 1895-1897, Mme DUBOYS, Rue Lafayette 85, Paris, Silk, L:16.5in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Mr. Edward Taylor, N0154.1954. 

Skirt, 1895-1897, Mme DUBOYS, Rue Lafayette 85, Paris, Silk, L: 62 in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Mr. Edward Taylor, N0154.1954.