Fashioning Identity

Fashioning Identity: Status Ambivalence in Contemporary Fashion

As a child, my favorite time of year was when we boarded the Boeing 747 from Copenhagen to Charlotte, North Carolina, to spend Christmas with my maternal grandmother, Eloise. She had insisted on not being called Grandma. It cramped her style. So I called her “mormor,” pronounced “more- more,” Danish for mother’s mother. It was a linguistic coincidence, but the name sat well with her attitude to life, setting her firmly apart from what she saw as the frumpiness of grandmotherhood. From her silver lame dress, worn whenever, to squirting bourbon from between her front teeth at people she found boring at cocktail parties, she was all about more fun, more parties, more fashion. An elegant rebel from 1911 to 1991.

She had nothing but great ideas. She gave me a white rabbit– fur coat when I was 6. For a while, she drove a yellow Toyota with an “Eloise’s Taxi” sign on the roof just in case she felt like driving someone home. She had an English Setter, named Liz after her idol Elizabeth Taylor, who experienced an unplanned union with a frisky Boxer from the neighborhood. Always making the best of a situation, in this case a litter of six puppies, she named the special breed a “Sexer.” She had me parading down her stairs in party gowns far too big for me while she sang “Heeeeere she come, Miss Ameeeeerica . . . .” She was a Tiffany’s meets K- mart, “just- for- the- hellof- it” kind of a lady. An adult version of Kay Thompson’s children’s book namesake Eloise who lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York doing her own thing.

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