Melbourne Cup Millinery

November 2, 2010

“The most common manifestation of sexual desire among birds takes the form of strange posturings which are, in some species, enormously exaggerated by the display of vividly coloured frills, tufts, or other conspicuous modifications of the normal plumage.” (W. P. Pycraft, The Courtship of Animals, p. 95)

Ignore the profiglate gambling, the venerated pedigrees, the frenzied whipping of the galloping beasts – horse racing is all about the fascinators.

One might be inclined to suggest that I’m fascinating enough without having to resort to such garish ornament. I’m flattered. But let us be careful not to succumb to the common iconoclastic morality that would condemn such displays of artifice, or confine them only to the feminine sex (at least among Men, uniquely against Nature). Let it not be said that I possess some natural quality it would be deceitful to envelop. Had I the opportunity, my head would be likewise adorned with exquisite fabrication – like so, perhaps:

Modest and elegant, wouldn’t you say? Of course, our flighty superiors perfected such ceremony long ago.

“If we find animals appealing and seductive, it is because they remind us of this ritual arrangement. They do not evoke a nostalgia for the savage state, but a feline, theatrical nostalgia for finery, for the seduction and strategy of ritual forms which transcend all sociality and which, thereby, still enchant us.” (Jean Baudrillard, Seduction, p. 90)


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