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...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Diana Exhibit

I used today's conference for Med Students in Broward County as an opportunity to duck into the The Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale , who are still showcasing their Diana, Princess of Wales exhibit.


It was held over from 31 December to 6 February, presumably to accomodate the floods of interested patrons, all wanting a look-see at the late English Rose's lifestory.

But if there are flocks, they were well-concealed under the Versace gowns, I can tell you.

It's true that it was a steady trickle of people, mostly women, although I was quite intrigued that there were some men there, all of whom actually looked fairly heterosexual. Several of them were actually unescorted, comfortably dressed older men, in their 50s at least, so that also came as a surprise.

(And before anyone complains, no, I didn't go there to check out the male hordes of Diana fanciers -- it was merely my eagle-eye always scouting around for minor details. Count yourselves lucky that I haven't critiqued the docent's impossible Scarlett O'Hara accent. And speaking of docents, these manicured-like-a-lawn know-it-alls of a certain age, what is up with having no guidebook to the exhibit? Good grief. Not that I was going to buy one, obviously, but that sweet little ole Jewish lady who hung around me, could sure have used it. She looked as if she didnt know an Earl from a Bubba)

Fortunately, I didn't pay to be there, since I'm not interested enough in the late Princess' life to poney up U$20, as cruel as that sounds. It was swag from South Motors BMW, which furnished my father's fresh new ride, gratefully giving us 2 tickets in recompense.

And am I glad I didn't, since the price of admission in no way made up for the lack of quantity of items in view (although to be more gracious, perhaps the quality did).

The first exhibit, immediately on entering, laid out the history of the Spencer family neatly for the uninitiated -- which due to that History degree I am cruelly saddled with, I do not count myself as belonging. I even knew there was a portrait of an older Spencer kinswoman who looked like eerily like the late Princess, and lo-and-behold, there it was -- and indeed, she looks just like her great-auntie, although her resemblence to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire was also very pronounced, I thought. Same long nose and peaches-and-creme complexion, looking too devilishly like the "It Girl" of her own generation.

Second exhibit was the childhood years, with a plethora of "aww"-inducing objects, including baby Diana's red toy-car (for the curious, not a mini of a Mini, but an MG), her Upper 1st Form report card ("Ex" for reading, and "good" for all the rest, including "Tales"...the same boring curricula hadn't changed much later to my own time, although I can't remember any tales, except perhaps the ones I myself told), and also her father's home movies, prefaced by the opinion that Earl Spencer was a "talented amateur film maker". So why did it have the same ghastly dullness of my own home movies, I ask you? You've seen one energetic blond girlie hamming it up for papa's camera, you've seen them all.

But the anchor to which the whole exhibit revolved came next, to salvage a bit of interest for an hour spent: the famous wedding dress -- that deliciously flouncy work of art in taffeta by the quarrelsome Emanuels, who really have never lived that dress down. Come on, tell me what else they've produced even remotely newsworthy since that overgrown Cinders costume?

It really was stunning, perhaps a bit faded and lemony, even taking into account the lighting on top, but truly a masterpiece of bridegownage, if that's a word (if not, I'm making it into one, comme ça). Interestingly, I didn't know she had a parasol at the ready in case of rain, although she must've forgotten it in the royal carriage, since I don't recall any photo of her carrying it. I vaguely recall the occasion as a semi-rainy day, but later Queen's weather prevailed thankfully -- else we would've gotten a very different kind of "wet kiss" on the balcony.

The last real exhibit, since the penultimate and ultimate ones were uninteresting filler of Diana in her Dodiage, were her haute-couture gowns, rather a lot by Jacques Azzufray whom I had never heard of. The purply, ruffled crisps, Carmen Miranda-at-the-Mocambo ones were by Versace, I noticed unamazedly. How women are catty to each other, I thought, as I advanced like a bloody dreadnought out the door.

What I cannot abide by is having overpriced souvenirs in Museum boutiques, and this one was truly over-the-top pricewise.

Where is the tea cosy?

As much as I was willing to buy a bibelot of this or that item to remind me of my acid-tongue foray into Dianaworld, I'm afraid nothing caught my wallet's fancy. I was not about to pay:

- $9 for Althorp House Shortbread biscuits (25% off!!)
- $27 for Althorp House Earl Grey tea (which I hate anyway, where's the Darjeeling??)
- $225 for a Diana tea cosy set (made of solid spun gold and ranch mink, I hope)
- $99 for a Diana mizzuzah (yes, it's that Jewish thingamabob one puts on doorways -- maybe she had done a Sammy Davis, Jr and converted? Ay vat a shandeh)

But I did buy the $7 rubber ducky, with tiara.

You didn't think I would pass up a yellow baby bath ducky with a crown and eyelashes on it, did you? I should think not. And when I get a moment to scan it here in the Med School lab, I will show it to you.

Trust me, it was the best part of the exhibit.

Update: Here it is!

Just Ducky


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