The Dress

Over the years, people have gone to truly extraordinary lengths in pursuit of fashion. A catalog of peculiar gowns would fill several volumes, even without getting into bizarre hats, wigs, gloves, codpieces, shoes, eyeglasses, and all manner of other demented accessories, and I will not so tax the reader except to mention a few highlights.

Dresses of strange materials are not uncommon. Among the oddest were the mycorrhiza gown of Milicent von Pratt, a wrap of finest fungal threads. This sensational outfit required almost two weeks to put on, requiring Lady von Pratt to paint herself with an agar and compost growth medium and lay prone in a fungal bed for most of that time. It was only worn once, and deteriorated significantly during the course of the evening, requiring her ladyship to retire quickly from the entertainments.

And then there was the finchbone dress worn by the Dowager Duchess of Eastmarch, made from the tiny skeletons of nearly a thousand finches, carefully wrapped and hung with silver and copper wire, and hemmed in small avian skulls. The Dowager Duchess later went mad under peculiar circumstances and had to be locked away, screaming about the cheeping, the dreadful cheeping, but scholars agree that this was probably a coincidence.

Arguably the oddest dress–and whether it was a dress or a form of performance art is open to debate–was worn as a form of protest against the fur trade by the elvish activist Meleleleleelele, (“Complains-to-Rocks”) and was made of six hundred and forty one live mice. Highly trained and carefully selected for strong grip and iron bladder control, the trained mice anchored themselves to Mel’s underwear at key points, gripped one another’s paws and tails, and formed a living garment, completely with lace cuffs made of cleverly entertwined tails.

Everyone agreed that Mel’s mouse dress was a fantastic and avant garde achievement, and doubtless it would have carried the day and sent new styles for decades, had not her old rival, Ekele-Mara (“Smells-Faintly-of-Cheese”) shown up wearing pants made of twenty-three live terriers, with unfortunate results for everyone involved. There were no casualties, but most of the mice had to retire due to shattered nerves, and the trend in clothing turned towards sequins and artifical snakeskin instead.

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