Dress to Kill

I distinctly recall crossing YOU off my guest list.

-Bette Davis, All About Eve

Where have you been all my life?"

That's the question I asked myself a few weeks ago, because - call me a sentimental fool - but I do believe in destiny.

And when you find the One, I think you just know.

We had a party coming up, and this time, I was determined not to leave the details to the last minute. (Liquor license? Insurance? Security? Alcohol? The entire staff went to Def-Con 3 at least 90 days ago, but as far as I was concerned, we could just suspend EVERYTHING till I found a dress. I learned my lesson last time out.)

That's how Hop Sing and I came to be sprawled across my living room rug one Saturday last month with every 2001 issue of Vogue and InStyle that we could find.

We grew increasingly despondent... And just when we were about to give up...

There it was. Come to Mama.

It was everything I never knew I always wanted.

An Oscar de la Renta.

A golden white light suddenly bathed my living room.

I handed Hop Sing the "emergency" gold card and dispatched him to the web. (And I can't TELL you how MUCH it pained me to do that - as the daughter of a woman who proudly views Crystal Light as an "extravagance.")

The next Monday, I walked by his desk while he was on the phone with "couture" at Saks, just in time to hear him say, "That's not how it works, doll. I'm not buying tobacco here. You tell ME how much it costs, not the other way around."

Presumably, he was afraid she'd raise the price once she realized she was dealing with a coupla hilljacks from Hooterville. (I'm guessing the tobacco metaphor didn't help his case any.)

Although one guy I know took me down SEVERAL pegs when he said, "Oscar de la Renta? That's what you're wearing? I thought it was a sofa."


Now, it should be said that I am NOT a clothes-horse. (And that doesn't NEED to be said to anyone who's ever met me.) My biggest fashion achievement to date was adding a bra to my wardrobe once I hit 35.

No one's ever going to confuse me with Donna Karan. Or for that matter, Donna Mills.

I never saw what the fuss was about designer clothing until this came into my life - and it's everything I love about art and architecture all rolled into one.

Because I feel like a different person when I wear it. (I imagine I would also feel like a different person if I donned cowboy boots and a white-fringe jacket... but not in a good way.) I don't care if it takes duct tape and carpet tacks to get me into it (and keep me there), no sacrifice is too great.

I wish it came with its own riding crop, because it makes me want to whip bad men and make them call me Miss Kitty.

Fortunately, it does come with its own bodyguards.

They went everywhere with me when I test-drove it at a Derby party this weekend, speaking tersely into their wristbands, "Eagle is moving. Eagle is moving."

We almost had to add an entire ROOM to the party - just to accommodate it. I would call it the Eyes Wide Shut room. (It's very Kubrickian.)

Our project director has sent a press release to every guy I know who MIGHT be at the party, declaring, "it's an Oscar de la Renta. It's see-through. Do NOT get anything on it. If. You. Know. What. I. Mean."

That's the final challenge: the Guest List. Hop Sing is obstinately refusing to let the Sensitive Coyote (from past columns) attend. I have yet to say a bad word about him, but Hop Sing is in a STATE. (After repeated questioning, it turns out that he really thought they had a moment at a party a few weeks back - when the guy reached out for my mini Kate Spade bag, a job usually delegated to Hop Sing himself. Yet, my faithful manservant handed it over, and apparently, he misconstrued that one moment as the "Changing of the Guard." He was "passing the Torch." He was "handing over Martin Sheen's briefcase on the West Wing - the one with the Big Phone and all the secure numbers." He confessed he was warming up to sing "Avé Maria" at our wedding.)

I think we just need to give him some time. I may still think I've got game, but he's still crushed.

After last week's column, everyone else kept asking me about the New Boyfriend (the one with "8 cylinders") and if they were going to MEET him this weekend.

I said, Please. 1. He's not my boyfriend. I never said he was. We've exchanged 39 minutes of conversation in two weeks (none of it naked, and none of it inspiring. That sounds cold, but trust me when I say, this is NOT going to come as news to him. Primarily because I don't think he can read). And 2. I never work and date at the same time. (I need to keep my hands and mouth free.)