The Year of the Big Dress


My friends keep talking about the outfits they want to be buried in. (Hopefully not soon, but they are planners.) My answer has always been naked—why waste a good outfit in the ground? 

The root of the question isn’t really about how you’d like to go out, but what you look like at your most you. The best version of you: the oil portrait you, the album cover you, the Sunset Boulevard billboard you, your memoir author pic: What are you wearing? 

In any instance where I must be perceived, I like to be perceived in my tartan Chopova Lowena dress. Most people consider Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena’s leather belted kilts, fastened with dozens of carabiners anything but effortless. But to me they are as easy as being naked. I have never felt about any other garment the way I feel about their dramatically structured and tender clothes. I lose all rationality. I am overcome with a hot rush of desire. I must be in these wacky frocks or I simply will not be able to go on. It’s an addiction, just as expensive and thrilling as any of the illegal ones. Well, at least to me. 

On February 16, 2020 I met my match in a tartan midi dress I had ordered from their spring 2020 collection. Between runway shows, I went to their studio in Deptford, London, to pick it up. Laura’s Boston Terrier Ida sat in my lap, and the three of us chatted, snacked, and held up double layer taffeta organza bows on a blouse and skirt. “Too many or not enough?” Emma asked. “Not enough!” I said, biting into a powdered croissant. That skirt became the one Harry Styles wears in the December issue of Vogue. I left with the dress I had ordered. It’s a maniacal garment: a pale blue plaid top with a pilgrim collar and balloon sleeves that is grommeted to a black leather belt from which six meters of pleated taffeta hangs. It’s like a funhouse version of my Catholic school pinafore, exaggerated and cinched in all the right places. I carried it back to my hotel in a massive box, shredding it open like Christmas morning, and performing a little secret ritual, fastening the silver buttons close to my stomach, just a little squeeze tight, as though they were structurally integral to my body. Later that night a colleague handed me a tiny bottle of Purell, saying I needed to be careful about this virus.

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