(Mail byrnie, c. 12th century, Museum of Bayeux)
I have a long-standing fixation with medieval armor. Chain mail, to be specific. It's difficult to pinpoint the source of my fascination. Perhaps, in a previous life, I was a footsoldier in Boadicea's all-woman army.
Or perhaps my brain is still haunted by gripping visions of Dark Age tumult and turmoil from this much-loved book.
Or perhaps this by-now-iconic image of Alexander McQueen and the late, great Isabella Blow from a 1996 Vogue spread stoked my passion to uncontrollable heights.
(Photograph by David LaChapelle)
Yes, I realize there's no actual chain mail in the photo, but I suppose all the elements present cause my mind to make the connection anyway: "Castle + fire + damsel in distress + mayhem equals....ah, yes...chain mail."
Look at this ceremonial shirt from the 16th century. Over five hundred years old and it still feels modern. Even the decorative fastenings and jeweled brooches are in style. What would it feel like to wear? Heavy, certainly. But I can't help but think you would feel protected not only physically but emotionally.
(Image via wornthrough.com)
I can envision the product description: "Elegant, slim fit. Offers 100% impermeability in the battlefield (arrows, swords) and in court (betrayals, backstabbings, snarkiness). Dry clean only."
I've always thought of chain mail in terms of fashion, so I was rendered temporarily mute when I visited my friend Maria on Saturday and saw this stunning four-legged creature.
(Burlap and chain mail chair. Design by Maria Sarno.)
"Wha....?" I tried again. "Hwaaah...?" She took pity on me. "It's just a salvaged chair," she said. "I need to have it recovered. But do you like the chain mail I attached to the head rest?"
(Chain mail chair, detail)
Umm, yes. I love everything about it. I love the threadbare linen, the tattered seams and the way you've transformed it into the anthropomorphic embodiment of a medieval knight.
If fashion is considered the armor we clothe ourselves in, then surely we can upholster ourselves in it, too.