By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Other unsophisticated flapper wannabes think the ’20s means fringe and long glass beads, but as Chantel says, “That’s like saying everybody in the ’50s wore felt poodle skirts.” At which point, Nicole is reminded of her early, embarrassing newbie attempts at recreating the Roaring ’20s, of trying to pass off a sequined shirt as a dress.
“It was scandalously short!” Chantel scolds.
Nicole rolls her eyes. She brightens and adds, “There’s a stage you have to go through until you find what’s real. You get better and better at it. I was already into the ’70s. And you know what they say about the ’70s — it’s the ’30s in polyester.”
In the kitchen, Chantel pours another cream soda into her wine glass. “There was so much more to do back then,” she sighs. “I definitely feel like I was born in the wrong decade.” She has a persistent fantasy about the 1920s involving jumping into a jalopy, and rendezvousing with flocks of flappers to gossip about Zelda Fitzgerald and Gatsby. Well, maybe not Gatsby. “That was a terrible, terrible book. I hated the Nick Carraway character. I like The Beautiful and Damned better.”
“Really? I liked it,” says Nicole.
“I think we can agree that being a flapper is about having a good time all the time,” says Natalie. “Like Edna St. Vincent Millay. She was, like, woohoo! Free sex with everybody.”
“No,” says Nicole, looking chagrined.
Like Paris Hilton?
“Not Paris Hilton! Not at all,” says Natalie. “There is no modern equivalent.”
In their nonflapper lives, Nicole owns a vintage-clothing store, and Natalie is an executive assistant. Chantel, on the other hand, doesn’t work or go to school. Living the Roaring ’20s, you could say, is her full-time occupation. When asked how she makes money, she answers in a blithe way, “Any way I can.” Which usually involves selling something — a dress, a pair of stockings — through her online shop and ’20s-resource page, Flapper Flock.
In a bit, Chantel goes upstairs to assemble the outfit she will wear to a party tonight. Like the rest of the house, her room is cozy and messy and filled with lots of weird old things. Old books, old daguerreotypes, old dolls, an old rocking chair, an embroidered old silk peignoir. Asked how her friend Mr. Uncertain is doing, she says, “Oh, Anthony? He used to dress ’20s. But now he wants to go back to the 1700s. He’s an eccentric.”
She roots around in a drawer for a sheer blouse from Forever 21, high-waisted sailor shorts, John Fluevog oxford pumps and a sequined bustier belonging to her mom, burlesque star Kitten Deville. Chantel tries on a red beaded corset, declares it to be “awfully frumpy,” then yanks open the armoire door to reveal a single squashed wire hanger. The girls collapse into giggles. “Chantel has a pair of Uggs in there,” says Natalie.
“You take that back,” says Chantel. “I do not.”
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