Friday, April 2, 2010
Mary posted something nostalgic about Easter dresses on Facebook, which got me thinking about the clothes I loved as a child. I remember a fabulous black velevet dress with pearl buttons, and a pair of white go-go boots that probably did not make me look as much like Goldie Hawn as I liked to think. And I had a truly awesome leprechaun suit my mother made. (I grew up in Erin, Tennessee, and on St. Patrick's Day the kiddies were all forced to dress up as leprechauns. I think they may still do this. It's sort of a cult.) What I remember most fondly, though, were the Mary Janes I had when I was about 6. They had a little heel and the perfect round toe. The strap was not too skinny and not too wide. And they were oxblood, just about the color of Giuliano de Medici's cloak in the Botticelli above.
Oxblood--isn't that just the most alluring word? Gruesome, sensuous and silly, all at once. I loved the color from the moment I saw the shoes, but I loved it even more after I learned its name. Oxblood is a wonderful word to say out loud--it starts deep in your throat with an exhalation like a sigh, and ends with the tip of your tongue teasing your front teeth. It's a word that comes to a climax.
Sad to say, oxblood seems to have almost completely disappeared as a fashion color, especially for women. You can still buy preppy oxblood loafers, and there are some truly hideous Doc Martens on the market that call themselves oxblood, though they're really just plain ol' dark red. A true oxblood must be a red that is graced with a discernible amount of earthy brown.
I can't say a feel a need for another pair of oxblood Mary Janes, but I'm craving the color, thinking of mulled wine, oxblood lilies, and lots of other things that are out of keeping with the season, since oxblood doesn't seem to be part of nature's spring palette. I'm craving the word, too, which is a problem because it's not one that drops easily into everyday conversation. There's a band called Oxblood, and of course there's the notorious Oxblood Ruffin, who I assume gave himself that moniker. I know I'm not alone in my lexical devotion. Nor in my color fixation. Even though oxblood might not be everyone's cup of tea, so to speak, color fetishes seem to be pretty common. Lots of us, apparently, find color erotic.
And for some of us, including me, color obsession gets all tangled up with perfume addiction. In my own catalog of correspondences, oxblood is the color of Rochas Mystere and Creed Royal Delight. I think I need to go dig out those bottles...
Portrait of Giuliano de Medici, Sandro Botticelli, c.1475