PICTURE: #3 IN TWELVE ACTS
SPECIAL GUEST INTERVIEW:
PATRICIA MEARS TALKS ABOUT HER 3rd OUTFIT
What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
The dress is a vintage Chinese chi pao that dates to the 1930s. Because of its large size, it was most likely made for a westerner. The shoes, with their bright blue vamp and bronze heel, are by Comme il Faut, my favorite tango shoe company. Unseen is a satin slip by Jean Yu.
How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
I bought the dress from designer Patricia Pastor about 20 years ago. And the shoes, a newer acquisition, just happened to be the same color!
Did you compose this outfit spontaneously or was it planned ahead of time?
It was completely unplanned.
In a scale of 10, how pleased are you with this composition/outfit?
I love the composition but it makes me feel a little self conscious to wear it in public (see below) so I give it a 7.
What roles do color, the fit, and integrity of fabric play in this particular outfit?
While l adore the color, I rarely wear such bright things. In this case color enhances the sensuality of the soft cut-and-voided silk velvet and the narrow cut of the dress. Plus, the beautifully rendered silk frog closures are lovely details.
How soon would you repeat/wear this same outfit again?
I would wear it again but only rarely. It is old and fragile and I have to be careful because I want to keep it forever.
There is perhaps a spiritual, emotional, intellectual or psychological aspect to what/how we dress. What is your personal experience in relation to this outfit?
This dress seems to elicit some of the strongest reactions of any garment I own, specifically from some men. I think it is because of the chi pao’s sexual potency. Later versions of the chi pao were worn in films like The World of Suzie Wong and were used as vehicles to promote the negative stereotype of the sexually available and subservient Asian woman. Although my chi pao is not nearly as tight as versions worn in the 1960s, it still carries such symbolism, even today.