BY STEPHANIE SPIRO
If you’re like me, you probably cringe at the thought of dressing up only to freeze your butt off at a party or a parade, dodging monster masks and ducking spilled cocktails. Parties exhaust me, but Halloween is wonderful. And you can celebrate in your skivvies, in the warmth of your own home.
This post is for to the pathological introvert who secretly loves the quiet and still wants to dress up in kinky clothes, sip cocktails, and bask in the magic of All Hallow’s Eve.
First, a perfect last minute costume idea: 1920 French muse, Kiki du Montparnasse. She was a model for artist Man Ray and many others who made up the Dadaist movement in Paris. There’s a lingerie shop [http://kikidm.com] called Kiki du Montparnasse in New York, dedicated to selling chic and chichi undergarments inspired by the knickers Kiki made famous in the cafes of Paris. I have visited many of these legendary cafes, and Kiki’s spirit still lingers.
Think of this: Drinking champagne at La Coupole or guzzling coffee at Le Dôme Café… you can feel the ghostly spirit of a girl with bobbed hair, fan-kicking on tabletops, the light from the windows making lace patterns along the bodice of her dress.
If you don’t have time to visit Kiki’s in New York, your “costume” can be lingerie, anything you have. Step into some fishnet, snap on the garter, and recline in your favorite chair with your new favorite book. This year you won’t be cold because you’ll be sipping warm red wine (Kiki’s favorite “tonic”).
The book I recommend is Catel and Bocquet’s graphic novel Kiki du Montparnasse, a wonderfully risqué recounting of Kiki’s exciting and tragic life.
Kiki was born Alice Prin, and unlike the famous Alice, Kiki never found Wonderland. Instead she became wonderland. Kiki inspired many a collective hallucination as a vision in surreal photos and paintings. She was “the Muse of Montparnasse.” Dancing cabaret at the Jockey, she used her body to seduce and inspire so many. She had a lifelong partnership with Man Ray, but she mostly lived in squalor, jumping from one love affair to the next, an alcoholic and drug addict, constantly tearing off her clothes and singing for her supper.
One of the many men Kiki inspired was the poet and surrealist filmmaker, Jean Cocteau. Kiki recalled that: “Cocteau and I had the same passion for all that comes from the sea…" The fluidity and grace of Kiki’s ghostly existence made her seem like the dark side of Venus. She was an apparition of the goddess of love, rising from the sea mermaid-like on a half-shell, but never fully realizing her place as a mortal here on earth. Instead she shimmered in the shadows, dangling out of clothing, submerged in a surreal fantasy on canvas or in flickering light and shadow.
In the following, Kiki’s watery, translucent torso is immortalized in Man Ray’s short film, Le Retour a la Raison (1923), 2 Dadaist minutes of glitter and nails:
Cocteau’s classic film, Beauty and the Beast (1946) perfectly complements the Kiki graphic novel.
La Belle et la Bête is romantic and gorgeous and twisted. You can stream it as a part of the Criterion Collection on Hulu or you can watch the full film with an intoxicating accompanying opera by Philip Glass for free on YouTube.
In Cocteau’s version of the classic fairy tale, the beast was born gory and smokin’ hot (literally). He gorged on deer in the forest and came home covered in blood like a real, rugged mountain man. He had the face of an animal and he lived in isolation in a perfectly gruesome mansion that also happened to be the ultimate bachelor-pad. This was truly a curse.
Beast’s walls were lined with human-arm candelabras and statues with human faces and spooky moving eyes. Beast was the pearl-whisperer. Jewels collected in his palm to form gaudy and delectable treasures. Mind-powered magic doors opened on a whim and a white horse with a dazzlingly bedazzled mane did the Beast’s bidding.
When Belle went to live with Beast inside his magic world, she was transported on an enchanted conveyer belt to a bedroom with a furry-live duvet that slithered to the floor. She had a magic mirror to see beyond the bachelor pad. She cried diamonds. The beast gave her a golden key to carry in her cleavage.
We all know the story, and this rendition is glorious. It’s easily accessible online and perfect for any magical lady in a lace robe who wants to immerse herself in an eerie Halloween romance from another era.
With Kiki et la Bête in your goodie bag this year, you’ll only need to put on your highest heels and your most scandalous lingerie. You won’t be walking in the cold, introverts, so toss the candy and buy an extra bottle of warm red wine. Intoxicate yourself this Halloween, in more ways than one.