Elif Batuman, translator

of costume.

Her piece in the September Harper's about a Divine Comedy Marathon (reading, not running, like this) she took part in has all these little snippets of funny and telling observations about dress.  In 14th century Florence, in 21st century Florence, in Zara.

"An actor in a Dante suit was wandering around, explaining how great it was to be back home." (55)

"But I think it's one of the most beautiful things in the Vita Nuova that Dante first sees Beatrice bundled up in her tasteful red dress, 'tied with a girdle and trimmed in a manner suited to her tender age.'" (57)

"We went to Zara to buy red shirts.  The sportswear floor was unfathomably hot, crowded, and diabolically structured by a vast intelligence that had already looked into our souls, judged us, and caused us all to follow our own wills to our own particular miserable fates--those pursuing sleeveless leopard-print mock turtlenecks punished precisely by the pursuit of sleeveless leopard-print mock turtlenecks, while a somehow different fate, in a parallel circle of the store, awaited those in search of 'nautical' shirtdresses." (57)


("hell", in Swedish, an exhibition at Liljevalchs I want to see!  It was first called "dystopia" but the curator decided no one knew what that meant?  Everyone knows Helvete.)