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On the night of Isadora’s ride with Falchetto, a breezy September 14, the dancer dressed in her customarily chic manner, wrapping a six-foot-long red silk scarf twice around her neck and letting it drape across her left shoulder. Her friend Mary Desti pleaded with her, Isadora, please put on my black cape, it is quite cold. No, no, my dear, nothing but my red-painted shawl, she replied. Falchetto, also suspecting that his driving companion’s shawl wouldn’t keep her sufficiently warm on such a brisk night, and in a convertible no less, offered her his leather jacket. But Isadora simply threw her long scarf around her throat, shook her head no, and waved back to her friends, crying, Adieu, mes amis! Je vais   la gloire! (Goodbye, my friends! I go to glory!) Falchetto stepped on the gas. As the car rolled forward, Isadora’s flowing scarf flew back and its eighteen-inch tassels caught in the spokes of the rear wheel, winding around it like a spool of thread. The force broke her neck and severed her jugular vein. She was killed instantly. Decades later, the death of Isadora Duncan is still the subject of much curiosity among hobbyist investigators, who devote entire websites to the discussion of the case’s details, right down to arguing over precise specifications of the car. (Six-cylinder or four-cylinder? Did it have mudguards? Was it a Bugatti or an Amilcar?) The demise of the great dancer and consummate Fashion Victim was a freak accident for sure, but it brings up an interesting point about our fixation on dress: Had Isadora not put style first, would she have lived to see another day? Random accidents, like the one Isadora fell victim to, are bound to happen. After all, we live in a world in which thousands of emergencyroom visits each year are blamed on sponges and loofahs (mull that one over for a minute). In 2001, the long feather on an Italian Vogue fashion editor’s hat caught fire on a candle at a dinner party, incinerating the entire chapeau in front of her fellow guests. In 1991, a fortyyear- old Boston woman was fatally injured when her clothes got caught in an escalator. According to Britain’s Home Accident Surveillance System, trousers account for nearly six thousand falls each year, and slipper-related accidents send about twenty-seven thousand people to the emergency room annually in that country. Certainly, in a world where anything can happenlightning or an errant tree branch could strike at any moment, and do not forget those treacherous loofahs clothing accidents are relatively unpredictable. But there are other risks that Fashion Victims take on often knowingly. We’re otherwise intelligent people, yet when it comes to fashion, all sensibility flies out the window. For centuries, people of various cultures have endured pain and tolerated risk for the sake of fashion, from the bound feet of Chinese women to the neck-stretching rings of Burma’s Padaung tribe to the massive horse-hair petticoats of Queen Victoria’s time to the toepinching stilettos of today. Westerners act flabbergasted at the sight of a native tribesman with a six-inch shard of ivory poked through his nose, but are the customs we use to signify our membership in a given group any less weird? Discomfort is all relative, and what we are willing to put up with changes from one period to another. In the mid-1990s, it was still uncommon for American women to wear thong underwear. In 1998, the year an editor at Glamour wrote a short article about her first thong, the revealing panties were still widely considered something that only strippers and European women worecertainly not something comfortable enough to be appropriate for everyday wear. But consumers came around, and by today millions of women have learned to tolerate perma-wedgie as a trade-off for getting rid of panty lines. Likewise, during times when baggy pants are in fashion, we laugh at the days of uncomfortably tight jeans. But check back in a few years when those restrictive styles are back in vogue, and the same people will be singing a different tuneno doubt in a soprano voice. Tattoos used to be something that only sailors and bikers got, but once body art came into vogue, models, actresses, and fashionistas were rushing under the needle to get little butterflies, flowers, and tribal lines etched into their skin. And modern-day women scoff at the idea of mashing their bodies into corsets, yet they’ll endure blisters, corns, bunions, and sore arches to look good in strappy high-heeled slingbacks.Footwear | fashionbasics101 Ltf

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