As any devotee of Project Runway knows well, the shopping mall, according to Michael Kors, is a wretched hive of spandex and acetate villainy, the standard measure of the low brow and the common. Anything that sinks below the good taste limbo pole is banished there immediately-an amusing touch of irony, considering that my local mall contains not just a golden-hued Michael Kors ready-to-wear boutique, but a glut of his low priced Macy's wear. If any designer owed a debt to the institution, at least as a bankroll for his higher pursuits, it's the CFDA award winner. I'm not a big department store shopper, having turned to resale and thrift shops years ago. And maybe it's because my nearest mall is particularly snooty-though it does have plenty of kiosks filled with glittery hair accessories a few rhinestones short of tiaras, it is, for the most part, stocked with things I plain can't afford, and never will. It's a shrine to the unattainable, not to pleather and all things flammable. My Mom and I go there because it's like a bright shiny carousel-we don't ride the ride, but we love to look at the pretty whirling things. The colors! The lights! And it's been, lately, an amazing curiosity cabinet, the store windows like surreal full-size shadow boxes-
with backdrops made of hundreds of children's handmade butterflies,
Pink balls of yarn larger than poodles,
Ostrich eggs hatching retail,
Marigold paper precipitation,
Ice cream at Tiffany's,
Couples with eyes only for each other,
and time on their hands.
How much like the hands holding candelabras in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast? Very much, even though their enchantment is basically a plea to buy. But if you don't buy, it can still enchant in its way. There's very little of this kind of stage craft in everyday life nowadays, so if the mall can manage to transport me on a rainy Saturday afternoon, well, take me away.