accessorize with pitchforks and torches

The Grand Budapest Hotel is an amusing movie, a marvelously goofy send-up of a pretentious hotel of a certain age. As you probably know by now, the story takes place not in Budapest, but in a fictitious country, perched on forbidding mountains, amidst scenery reminiscent of the shrubbery around Dracula's castle. The fictitious country is called Zubrowka, which happens to be the name of a Polish vodka that is flavored with Polish buffalo grass. I'm told the flavor is crisp, pleasant and herbal, but it's unlikely that I'll find out personally. You see, Polish buffalo grass contains traces of coumarin, a blood thinner, and so the FDA won't permit it to be sold in the US. Faux Zubrowka is available, but it doesn't appeal.

Dracula's Castle is now, of course, a theme resort, and little boys beg to spend a night or two there to listen to recorded sounds of clanking chains, squeaking doors, hooting owls and assorted eerie moans and groans. As is usually the case when travelling in Eastern Europe, getting there is more than half the adventure.

For those whe enjoyed the movie (either the one about the hotel or the one about the vampires -- or both) and want to see more of Eastern Europe - A Theme Park of Colorful Peasants and Faded Aristocrats, but are working on a constricted budget, may I recommend the J.Crew website, where make-believe peasant gear abounds. Especially make-believe Transylvanian peasant gear.

For example, compare this blouse


to the blouses in these regional costumes from Transylvania



















                       and these J.Crew jackets























with this peasant's Sunday best:

Below, left, black and white embroidery from Transylvania, 
and right, the same as interpreted by St. Laurent and Gaultier.


So now we know what to wear to the movies, or to the pastry shop!

Actually, I kind of predicted the reverse of this about-to-be-trendlet in this post, where I suggested that J.Crew was poised to dress vampires, who, since they live forever and apparently are becoming interested in fashion, are a great market. They just keep changing clothes. I suggested sportswear, as a change from what's available in the many ethnic enclaves of Transylvania. And look: instead of sporty preppy vampire wear, we have peasant-directed ordinary human wear.

In fact, there's a lot of worrying going on in the many small countries that share a border with Ukraine. Some worried US residents have cancelled summer vacations in their home countries, out of concern that - well, out of concern. "The Bear never takes just one bite," one acquaintance told me.


20 comments:

  1. Hey, WFF! Guess where I hail from? ;)

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    1. Guéss where Pop's family hails from?

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    2. SERIOUSLY? We must meet one day!

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  2. Brilliant post!! You've cracked J. Crew's design code!

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    1. and me thinking it was all down to the heady fumes of vodka and plum brandy...

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  3. That's hilarious about J Crew. How astute of you to notice. I haven't seen the film, but keep reading about it, so I'll need to drags hubs out for it. Happy St Patricks Day!

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    1. Thanks, Jen, and a grand and glorious day to you!

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  4. I think this is what they try and fob off as zeitgeist! Why is the FDA so strict about raw cheeses, absinthe and this vodka and yet they allow neon orange cheese puffy thingos?

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    1. possibly because of the lobbying power of the American neon orange cheese-flavored puffy thing industry?

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  5. I must have been an unruly peasant in my last life, because I surely hate peasant-inspired attire in my current existence!

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    1. I actually love embroidery, but I always come to a stumbling block when I try to imagine where I'd wear it. I have a green velvet vest with gold embroidery, and whenever I cook Christmas dinner and don't have time to change before the hungry rabble is at the door, I throw the vest on over the tired jeans & shirt. Our group isn't exactly a Lauren/Hilfiger/Brooks ad anyway....

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  6. That movie is on my to-watch list, I am a bit fan of Ralph Fiennes!

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    1. He's wonderful, I can't imagine anyone else in the part. And it's so nice to see a movie where everyone is outrageous and does it professionally.

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  7. Great eye, WFF. You really found the perfect matches. Very amusing and on point commentary . I wonder if I would look charming or frightening dressed in traditional garb at a high school game?
    Extraordinarily sobering words at the end of your post...

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    1. Thanks, KnitYarns! My guess is you'd be mistaken for some kind of politically incorrect pom-pom lady.

      Re: the Bear - my 9th grade Social Studies teacher said this every Monday before laying out the week's reading: those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it..

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  8. I spent many hours last year looking for the quintessential peasant's blouse - and here they are now - with a whole movie full of them. You do have a great eye -that is perfect match! When living in London we were going to hike through Transyvannia - that's a real place right? but someone said crazy for us to take a small baby there

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    1. Hi, Jody, yes, it's a real place, it's got a very diverse population, and is apparently still very colorful and "folkloric" despite the efforts of the Ceaucescu government to stamp out the unique culture, demolishing little painted houses, etc. The region has been part of the Hapsburg empire, part of Hungary, is now governed by Roumania.

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  9. How very astute of you to spot this trend! Of course the undead would be a lucrative market, I can't believe JCrew is only figuring this out now. I knew they were desperate. Perhaps next seasons dernier cri will be flannel shirts and tattered pants a la zombie chic. Or don't zombies shop?
    Peasant tops are pretty-Ive always liked them but I cant wear them

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  10. I watched the movie today, I was in the mood for some old world. For me the immediate reference was more Thomas Mann than Dracula though. In any case it was brilliant and Ralph Finnies was truly marvelous (which made me think that we don't see him that much or as much as he would deserve). The only flaw of the movie was that we got to see the incredible Tilda for only a few minutes, I kept hoping she would come back (even when it became obvious that she wouldn't).
    I didn't spot any peasant blouse ;-).

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    1. Oh, very Thomas Mann if he could be light-hearted for more than a paragraph!

      No, I didn't see any peasant blouses either, it's just that the long shots of the hotel and the mountains made me think of the Transylvanian landscape and all the silly vampire programs that are infesting my television. See, that's what happens if you let one cross your threshold ;~)

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