Saturday, 12 March 2011

'The Spirit of the Black Dress' poem

For a post today on 'The Spirit of the Black Dress', a part of the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Cheryl at BusinessChic commissioned a poem from me on the topic, inspired by two images of models wearing some of the featured dresses amongst the iconic Melbourne artwork, 'The Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch'. I don't find fashion the easiest topic to write about but I actually found it quite satisfying to redraft and play with the ideas and imagery in this poem. Cheryl was great to work with and should be commended for her comittment to seeking out varied responses to, and perspectives on, fashion - she enrichs the (overlapping!) fashion and art worlds greatly. For the purpose of the post she chose to use an excerpt for brevity, but here I can post the full version.

the spirit of the black dress

at the corner of
Bourke and Swanston Streets,
a parade of black dresses:
           ebony reams
unfurl and sculpt
against the pumiced
bronze forms of history.

the statue performers in Bourke Street Mall
mimic the petrified businessmen,
enviously inspect their bronzed
longevity. but Batman, Swanston and Hoddle
remain bemused,
reincarnated as a Melbourne
archetype, suited
for public

cut lunches still wrapped
in tarnished briefcases, usually
they whisper observations
on their opus' adulthood -
shortfalls of planning
and skirts, mass drunkenness,
the preoccupation
with black.

this visitation of dresses is
          black reimagined,
their only kinship
tonal — some
afford chiaroscuro geometrics
across clavicles and legs;
some draped as though one
stitch was the sole
anchor; others with
winsome shirred hems
that lead the businessmen
to thoughts of birds
and night,
          to reminisce about the dark
opaque of plans, the city
still forming,
and ideals stalked
in mental backwaters.                  

amidst modern flux
Melbourne's founders
live their afterlife
through black (dresses).

© Sophie Curzon-Siggers, 2011.

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