Shopping and Performance Art

Petra and I took Travis into town yesterday to show him the clothes we’d found on Friday. He’s a most excellent fashion adviser, tending as he does to give “it looks good and you like it, so buy it” advice. I came away with four new pieces of clothing – enough to get me under way.

Our last stop of the day was the Zambesi store. It’s a beautiful space – stripped back to its concrete, metal, and wooden bones in a style Travis christened urban decay. The clothes are of a piece with the architecture. Beautiful flimsy delicate fabrics, lots of unfinished and salvage edges, a muted colour palette of blacks, greys, and a navy blue so dark as to be almost another shade of black, difficult shapes and lines. Edgy clothes of the type that Patsy pulled off so well in Absolutely Fabulous and Edina signally did not pull off. And Ab Fab is right, clothes like that are for middle aged women from the posh parts of town – they’re the only people who can afford them.

Petra found the store fascinating. She yelled out to me from the mezzanine floor, admired herself in the huge mirror hanging from the ceiling on long cables, and discovered that the old-fashioned chairs (they looked like Edwardian-era office chairs) swivelled. And with that discovery a game was born. She sat Travis and me down in the chairs, turned us to face the mirror and proceeded to play hair cut ladies. She washed, cut, hair sprayed, and blow dried both of us in turn. She was so intent on performing the actions in her game that she was completely oblivious to her surroundings and to the amusement of the staff and other shoppers. When she was done, she let us stand up and we left, having put on an impromptu performance for the assembled masses.

She’s quite self-conscious in some situations – when strange children approach her or when unfamiliar adults ask her questions – but she’s totally not when it comes to acting out her games or role-playing. I admire her single-mindedness and sang froid.

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