Ask any bride what she went through in order to find her dress, and the answer you’ll never hear is, “I walked into a store. I saw a dress. I liked it. I bought it.” Ohhh noooo. That is not the way of it. The buying of the Dress of Your Life is never such a simple, pedestrian affair. Nay, the arrangement of one dressmaker making, one store selling, and one consumer consuming belies the epic, Melvillian odyssey that is the quest for the One. The stalking and procuring of the garment encompasses every plot conflict in the literary world: Man vs. Man (have you ever been to a bridal shop? Claws at the ready, people), Man vs. Nature (while dress hunting, it’s as if the whole world- the flora and fauna, the atmosphere, the very firmament of heaven all conspire against you), and -most assuredly, Man Vs. Himself. Or, as Disney chose to put it:
Please to be getting your sea legs on, for after the jump, we board the Good Ship Nuptualus and decend into a madness as deep as the fathoms of the Sea.
“All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought…”
Like most brides, I first spotted the One in a bridal magazine. Aye she was a beaut’. A confection of weightless silk chiffon, white as the hand of the Virgin Mary and just as pure: Simple. Elegant. Unfettered by emroidery or crystals. Flowing. Draped. Timeless. Ten Thousand Dollars.
It was as though the magazine was taunting me. All at once enticing me and enciting me to dispair by giving me a glimpse of perfection and illustrating for me just how out-of-reach She is. There are about 20,000 leagues between me, middle class office drone, and the type of woman who can afford a 10k dress. And yet, I was determined to make her mine.
“Oh, Ahab! What shall be grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air!”
In my desperation, I turned to the same peddler-of-questionable-wares that many 21st Century brides come across in their quest: Internet-based Chinese dressmakers specializing in “reproductions”. Shady as all get-out, I know. But, I once had to buy a traditional Chinese qi pao dress for a play, and had a fabulous experience ordering from an online shop (efushop.com), and I figured most of the crap we buy at Wal-Mart or whatever is made in China already, so…. Um, no. I’m not about to make excuses for myself, as I know that a lot of the labor in certain parts of China is exploitation-based, so I’m really kicking myself for possibly aiding in such gross abuses. I can only hope that efushop is a humane company, but there is no such hope for “The Sirens” (known for luring unsuspecting budget brides with their enchanting lullabye of designer knockoff gowns into an inflatable kiddie-pool full of American entitlement, where the bride meets her doom. Drowning in her own shallowness.) aka Julius Bridal.
“…the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within…”
I fisrt heard about Julius Bridal through the small town that is the world of internet bridal communities. Reviews of the dress shop were universally praiseful, lulling me into a sense of trust. The photos on the shop’s site showed incredible skill and attenion to detail. “Why should I buy from a designer, anyway? You’re really only paying for the label, and the craftsmanship here is just as good.” thought I, dazzled by the possibility of steering my vessle that much closer to my dream dress. I emailed a Sirenshop employee with pictures and a description of my dress. I was met with a warm reply and a message of confidence in their ability to produce my dress. I sent in my measurements, to Paypal I did fly, and I left the rest in the hands of the Fates.
“At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided. It was a sharp, cold Christmas; and as the short northern day merged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor.”
… To Be Continued.
Next: “Starbuck thinks me mad.” The arrival of my commissioned dress-piece.
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