On Coming to Terms With Your Inner Fancy: Mugler x Swarovski vs. Small Town Life

The Dream. The dream makes me antsy.

I have a confession to make. I might not actually be the kind of girl who can relish the salt of the Earth, do it yourself, grow your own kombucha baby values that so many of my generation seem to be embracing.

Since leaving the life my parents built for me, a life whose economics went like this: poor -> middle class -> poor again -> Michael leaves, I have only ever lived in large, expensive cities. For years I harbored the artist’s version of the white picket fence dream: To live in a small, affordable city/town, where community is valued, and I grow my own food, learn to sew, and finally unwind after years in the impersonal, fast-paced, large, expensive city.

Surely I could spend my days being unconcerned about making rent and throwing myself into a series of creative projects, gardening aspirations, etc. Right?

Wrong. I am not this person. As it turns out, I can’t actually dedicate THAT much time to gardening. Ultimately if given the choice between spending my Saturday coaxing wax beans out of the ground or just buying the damn things, I choose going to the farmers market and being done with it.

As for “community,” apparently I don’t like being recognized by strangers where ever I go. I like anonymity. Meeting people and having them tell me that they recognize me from this or that arena startles me. I have no response for it. And when I DO try to connect, I’m facing the added problem of having come into adulthood in Northern California. I might as well have just moved to a small town after having spent a great deal of time on the MOON.

The other day I noted that Mercury was in retrograde and was received with a round robin of blank stares. MERCURY, PEOPLE! MERCURY! RULER OF COMMUNICATION…oh nevermind.

Here I am channeling the mystical properties of a POWER CRYSTAL in Boston, city with the least likelihood to buy into anything mystical. Go Celtics!

All of this is to say, despite some part of myself that wants to be able to live a life that looks like this:

Welcome to my pastoral, self-sustaining utopia that I find generally boring!

I have to admit I’d actually rather:

Welcome to my casual-fancy birthday dinner in Paris that in truth I can't afford, but which I will remember forever!

As it turns out, I like fancy sparkle in life. I’m not talking irresponsible, unabashed Capitalistic consumption, but I have to admit that I might not be the dramatic revolutionary I fancied myself to be. Sometimes a bitch just wants a small-batch, hand-roasted coffee brewed by the cup! How am I this bitch?


I feel a little bit like I’m coming out or something. As fancier than I think I’m supposed to be given the state of the world and also what everyone around me supposedly loves. Oh my god, I don’t want to grow my own organic veggies all the time. Holy shit. I really don’t care about re-purposing old clothes to make napkins or whatever.

The above thoughts were playing out in their usual inner chitter-chatter fashion when I came across the point of this post. After months of struggling with my newly-discovered/admitted dislike of everything I had purported to believe in, it was not the idea of harvesting my own squash, but this that got me fired up:


Before you look at images from the Swarovski collaboration with the House of Mugler, you should totally watch the video in which Mugler talks about his inspiration for the line. I say this because the line actually looks a little odd. A bit like The Little Mermaid meets The Jetsons, but I was so starved for something glamorous, I found watching Mugler talk about being inspired by sand, decay, rebirth, and crystals made me appreciate the line more.

It also made me remember what I love about fashion: some eccentric guy talking about sand creatures morphed into whatever and how that connects to things people put on their bodies as clothes. SAND CREATURES ARE MORPHING! FASHION!

Crystal leggings, y'all. I wouldn't wear them, but I'm glad they exist.

Judy Jetson's all grown up and she has a tacky wrist tattoo.

Part of what I like about this weird Mugler/Swarovski collaboration is simply the fact that there’s finally something altogether different on the runway. More than that, Mugler’s not talking about rehashing this or that from bygone days.

This is pleasantly ugly. Does that make sense?

I 100% want to see someone wearing this out and about.

Like all art, there are clear references to past moments in many of the pieces– the ’80s appear in a dramatic shoulder, the ’20s in a fluid line, and the ’70s in one or two of the necklines and pant silhouettes. But for the most part, it feels like finally someone is looking forward instead of solely looking back. And good god, at least it’s interesting, even if it is a little ugly. But then, Mugler’s an expert transforming the grotesque into the gorgeous. Either way, I don’t think I was going to be able to take another spring/summer womenswear snoozefest.

So here it is: My name is Michael. I like to use power tools, but I want to easily be able to walk to a clothing store that I like. I will grow some plants, but they better not take up all my time. I will buy loafers at a thrift store, but I actually have never really liked thrifting because I have ADD and I can’t focus as hard as an expert thrifter needs to be able to focus (the kind who finds only amazing designer yadda yadda every time they step into a Goodwill), and anyway usually new clothes fit me better, and also when you actually HAVE to buy used clothes and it’s not a fun challenge or some sort of ideological choice, it’s less fun and less romantic (see: Michael’s teen years).



Here is what’s true: sometimes everything you think you want can come to fruition and then you realize you didn’t know what you wanted because you were just jumping from one end of a spectrum to the other.

And so my new life goal is to figure out how on earth to integrate the part of myself that likes a little bit of quiet and calm with the part of myself that likes fast-paced fancy, the part that likes to build a dining set by hand with the part that gets excited when an eccentric man figures out how to use sparkly crystals to create an effect similar to water, sand, and decay.

Fewer dichotomies in life can’t ever be a bad thing. Fewer crystals might be a bad thing.


About Michael von Braithwaite

Does it look like I'd wear it on a boat, at an eccentric person's estate or accompanied by a peacock on a chain? Yeah, I'll probably buy that.


  1. annie

    Hmmm … just spitballing here ….. but seems like maybe the answer to your conundrum is….. Los Angeles?

  2. My compromise has been as such: put on a full face of make up (or, at least lipstick or whatever your main jam is ) and a decently romantic outfit> dig in garden for an hour> stop digging and change out of dirty clothes into something else suitably romantic for the occasion/climate/local> cocktails. It’s all good as long as all roads lead to cocktails a smug garden cocktail nicely tempers the shoeless hippie parts of your day.

  3. Michael von Braithwaite

    THAT is excellent advice! And I will surely take it when the weather warms up.

  4. Bonus hippie/smug points for infusing your spirits with something you grew in said garden. The circle of life tastes fabulous!

  5. sparkly Crystals on CLOTHES! so beatuful

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