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the sleep of reason

by Michael Swanwick

with illustrations by
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes


60. [Plate 26]
Haute Couture

Ooh-la-la! Last year's underwear-as-outerwear is out. This year, femininity is in.

Not last year's femininity, of course. No, no, no. Maison des Filles has rethought women from the tops of their gorgeous little heads to the tips of their irresistible little toes. This season's line is designed specifically for the confident, unaffected, ravishing creature that is this season's you!

Traditionally, women's clothing has no pockets. Women don't need them! If you want something — a third martini, say, or a mink stole, or an abortion — why, there's always a man around to pay for it, isn't there? You know there is. Well, we've taken that thought one step further, and eliminated the arms altogether. Why should a women need arms? To do things? Don't make us laugh.


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Note as well the saucy cut of our new micro-minidress. When you sit, it provides your admirers with a naughty flash of… well, everything, basically. The fact that it's worn without underwear or shoes sends a message that says: I'm flirty, but down-to-earth. I'm natural, but obsessed with fashion. I'm skeptical, but easily mislead. And I don't have any pockets.

Examine the needlework. Exquisite! This caliber of craftsmanship can only be done by Third World war widows whose lives probably don't bear thinking about. Run a hand over the fringe surrounding the cowl. So soft! It's made of hand-pieced owl feathers from a bird freshly removed from the endangered species list - so your conscience is clean! - and yet still rare enough that only you will be able to afford it.

And the rattan hats? They're the crowning touch! They create a look that says: Be proud of what you are. If your brains are in your butt and your head is full of shit… Why, then, put your chair where it belongs!


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This is the 60th of 80 stories by Michael Swanwick written to accompany Francisco Goya's Los Caprichos. For a listing of the most recently available stories, go to The Sleep of Reason.

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