Mannequins on Avenue C
Mannequins on Avenue C
portrait by Gluck, 1925
Actor and accomplished embroiderer Ernest Thesinger. I will embroider on the reference: He was married to Jeanette, who was an intimate friend of Margaret Jourdain. Jourdain was a furniture expert who lived for decades with the fierce novelist Ivy Compton-Burnett. And so on.
In which I write about fashion history, Tilda Swinton, the exhibition “Fashion, Impressionism, and Modernity,” Stéphane Mallarmé, and more.
“’This is your first novel in a decade.’ There are so many strange things in that brief statement. The word ‘decade’ is one of them; the word ‘novel’ is another. Do you know who I am, who I really am? Well, I don’t know that, either.”
“Sandy” came to mind, of course, as “Nemo” swirled around. Here are two photos from the former, as the water receded in late October on Avenue C. Where did this fish come from? I have my theories. I do not know.
A fever dream comes true — tonight:
All We Know goes onstage at Dixon Place, NYC, starring Moe Angelos as Esther Murphy, Carmelita Tropicana as Mercedes de Acosta, Dick Page as Madge Garland, and me—as The Author.
A young Sybille Bedford (right) in Madrid, 1933, with the artist Eva Herrmann. They are in Spain, traveling with Aldous and Maria Huxley. This was Republican Spain, before the Civil War, and the trip “turned out an exhilarating and happy time. … Long mornings in the Prado,” as she writes in her memoir Quicksands. In this book, she refers to Herrmann not by name, but as “my painter.” They were there to see the El Grecos. (Photograph courtesy the Estate of Sybille Bedford)
See “Wilde in the Office” by Kaya Genç in the current Los Angeles Review of Books, a reading of Oscar Wilde’s revision of this woman’s magazine—and of the relationships among journalism, literature, and fashion.
“Rather than making a choice between the discourses of journalism and serious literature, Wilde unsettled their distinctness and turned a fashion magazine into a literary venture. In doing this he turned literature on its head, making it a suitable medium where the author could talk at length about fashion and dress.”
It is a precursor of British Vogue in the mid-1920s as edited by Dorothy Todd and Madge Garland.
A biography is a book of lives, but also a book of deaths.
Passport-sized photograph of Esther Murphy, inscribed with love to Sybille Bedford, circa 1950s.
Esther—her love and her mind—lived on, for Sybille, during the over four decades of her own life (1911-2006) that followed Esther’s death in November 1962.
I still wonder how to live without Sybille—with her death.