It's really hard to look good when you're bawling your eyes out. I've sort of made an art of it. The trick is to keep your composure and not to screw your face up, once you do it creates lines and creases for your mascara or foundation or whatever the hell you're wearing to trickle down your cheeks and you'll end up looking like the victim of a violent crime. If you keep your composure, you have a look of quiet dignity about you. Your mascara will run, but trust me, it seeps out of your eyes in a totally artistic way. People look good with blank faces and wet eyes.
I don't often cry at Burnings. Once you've seen one you've seen them all. Not many people are deserving of my tears. This Burning was an exception—Christian Lacroix, my absolute favorite French designer, was roasting alive right in front of me. Apparently a dress he designed for Nicole Kidman wasn't up to par and someone on her Social Anti-Satanism Squad (or SASS) had planted some occult items in his high-rise New York City penthouse. When I heard the news I immediately pictured a virgin sacrifice wearing one of his trademark puff skirts, probably red. Red was a big color this season for sacrifices.
The go-to group when you suspect someone of being a witch is the Inquisitors, a government agency devoted to the extermination of anything deemed occult or Satanic. Say you see you neighbor engaging in an orgy in their hot tub with a bunch of known deviants, red candles on every flat surface of the porch and between multiple orgasms the woman appear to be speaking in tongues. In such an instance, it's entirely possible some sort of summoning ritual or bizarre channeling is taking place right in the center of middle-class suburbia. You simply call the 800 number (1-800-HELP-NOW) and within hours a full scale investigation will take place. Also say you're jealous of all the great sex your neighbor is engaging in in said hot tub, you could simply blow the story completely out of proportion and then watch in immense satisfaction as his flesh is singed to the bone. This sort of shit happens a lot.
When I heard of the charges against Lacroix my mind was immediately filled with the images of unfashionable Inquisition officials in ugly black pressed suits with barely any tailoring breaking through his front door with batons and mace. Just that thought alone was enough to bring a tear to my eye, but when juxtaposed against Lacroix's no doubt flawless outfit, ahead of the curve and in next season's top colors, it seriously made me bawl. The image of him shackled and being led out of his apartment was in my top ten of horrible thoughts for that day. Maybe even the top five, now that I think about it. I have a lot of horrible thoughts, but this was one of the few potent enough to make me cry.
That's what I was doing now, watching Lacroix's retro ultra-fitted suit jacket slowly ignite, making him scream even louder than he was to begin with. I hear once the fire reaches your upper body, that's when it really starts to smart.
I don't usually wear make-up, but I totally had to pencil on some eyeliner for the visual impact. I just don't think men should wear make-up, but I prefer jock-types anyways, so I guess that would be why. People can do whatever the hell they want to, I know I do.
It didn't take long for Lacroix to die. His body stopped shaking shortly after his screams were cut short. The shaking reminded me of an art installation I saw at a gallery a few weeks back offering commentary on the Burning. A pretty girl was chained to a pole by her ankles and then she danced around screaming about the pain of every molecule of water in her body boiling and turning to steam, cooking her from the inside out. I liked it at the time, but now that I think about it, it was sort of weak. There was no comparison for the real thing.
"Damien, somehow I'm not surprised to see you here," a voice behind me said, barely audible. I felt a hand fall on my shoulder. "Favorite designer, right?"
I turned to look at the small Asian girl who had at some point snuck up behind me. "Good memory," I answered, realizing she looked vaguely familiar and I had probably run into her in the past—Satan knows where.
"And coming to his funeral in his new line of menswear? Genius," she said, turning me away from the Burning to face her so she could get a better look.
"I see you're wearing his spring 2011 style poof skirt?" I asked. "Good choice. I liked his winter line, but it lacked the dramatic impact that was evident in earlier styles."
"God, it is so hard to find someone with good fashion sense these days," she muttered, letting go of me so I could turn back to watch my idol turn into something resembling a blackened, split open hot dog. "Well, I came to pay my respects. I have to get back to the Academy of the Inquisition, finals start tomorrow and I have some serious cramming to do tonight."
"Good luck, I suppose," I said, not even trying to feign any interest towards her departure. "Finals are supposed to be tough as shit."
"Yeah, that's what I hear. Good luck with you too, with whatever it is you're up to now," she said, hovering for a few moments before slipping into the crowd.
I thought about telling her and she probably expected me to, but I just ignored her as best as I could and as far as I could tell it worked exquisitely. I couldn't remember her name, or where I had met her. Did we go to high school together? Had she been in one or more of my university classes? She looked a little familiar, but that's about it.
I stayed for a few minutes more, but soon he was too black to burn and I was getting a little hungry.