“After Balenciaga” by Marshall Moore from The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy, Northwest Press, 2013. Edited by Tom Cardamone.
I feel about this story much the way I did about Alex Jeffers’ “Captain of the World”, which was all about soccer. This story is about fashion design, something I know almost nothing about, and yet I enjoyed it.
The premise is great. A mysterious figure has resurrected and subsequently enslaved some of the world’s most talented, but deceased, designers. They don’t know his actual name, so they call him “Couture”. I suspect that if you are really up on such things you can see that the entire piece is an allegory, every bit a sly commentary on the industry. For example, Couture is headquartered in Beijing. He’s dug up the designers of yesterday and is forcing them to create designs for him, but he doesn’t really have what it takes to pull off the looks. He also can’t tell when he’s taken a look too far. He has all the power and no taste.
Now I did recognize that Alexander McQueen was the one narrating. I remember when he committed suicide. It wasn’t that long ago, and it was shocking and very sad. He was just forty, had lost his mother only days before, and apparently was dragged down by despair. I also understood the references to Versace’s murder. Who wasn’t riveted to their television at that awful moment in time? Likewise I could appreciate the digs the other characters made toward Coco Chanel. The rest were little more than names to me, but as I said, I suspect that for the right reader, this story is pure gold.