Toxic Tank Tops, and Other Oscar Revelations


Last Saturday, the day before the Oscars, when the entire fashion world was afroth about which starlet was planning to wear what the next night, a small item in The New York Times caught our eye.

It seems that a student named Kelli Davis had her picture yanked from the Fleming Island, Florida High School yearbook because she wasn’t wearing the requisite outfit for graduating young ladies: an antediluvian draped gown and pearls. Davis, who is an out lesbian, submitted a photo of herself in a tux, which the principal promptly pulled, despite the fact that she’s a straight-A student. According to the Internet Broadcasting System, Davis said she was uncomfortable having her chest exposed in the photo and opted for the tux “Because that’s me, you know. That represents me. The drape does not. They’re not accepting me.”

Despite considerable support—the yearbook editor resigned in protest—the decision at the moment still stands.

In any case, win or lose, it’s a victory for all of us that Davis had the guts to stand up to the philistines in a place far from Chelsea or the Castro. Bravo, Kelli! It is with such small, courageous steps that liberation, sartorial and otherwise, is won.

We didn’t spot any women in tuxes at the Oscars, which was a shame, since we’ve always thought “le smoking” was a wonderful evening alternative. In fact, all in all, it was a pretty pallid night.

Though we thought Chris Rock was uneven, we loved, loved, loved, his Bush-bashing—especially since it employed a wardrobe metaphor: Rock compared Bush to a store manager at the Gap who had a 70 billion dollar deficit at the register when he closed at night, and started a war with Banana Republic over what he thought were “toxic tank tops.” Turns out Banana Republic didn’t even sell tank tops. (OK, so it was funnier when Rock said it.)

Alas, this year there weren’t any latter-day Sharon Stones wearing T-shirts, toxic or otherwise, on the red carpet. It was a supremely bland affair, both on stage and off, with wacky chicks—to borrow a phrase from Simon Doonan—nowhere to be seen. No Cher look alikes! No Bjork swans! Just a parade of pretty-pretty evening gowns—that is, unless you consider Hillary Swank’s heinie-crack dress wacky. And it was in its way, since rear cleavage in combination with a high neck doesn’t show up every day on the red carpet, or anyplace else. Still, though it was undeniably saucy, it remained disappointingly tasteful. Oh well, maybe next year.

In other news of galloping homogeneity, two supersize department store consortiums—Federated and the May Company—are now a single behemoth. Federated, which already owns Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, has bought the May Company, parent of Marshall Field’s and Lord & Taylor. Federated says they’ll probably change the names of some of their newly acquired stores to Macy’s.

Macy’s? This is something to aspire to? This is the jewel in the retail crown? Macy’s? Have you been there lately?