Transformation of the Human Figure

Hello Everyone! I cannot even believe I am able to write this post. I am in New York, staying right on Fifth Avenue and about to get my first taste of fashion week! New York is what I grew up knowing fashion to be- coming here every year and seeing impeccably dressed people, reading Vogue at Momofuku, and meeting Bill Cunningham as I stopped him on the street to tell him how much his column and video journals have affected and meant to me. This city kicks off fashion week because it is new, it’s inventive, it carries the romance of fashion week yet always strives for impossible cool.

My first show is tomorrow! As I have been simultaneously checking Vogue and Elle on my phone, watching the Kanye West show and seeing who photographers have spotted as the coolest street style gurus and keeping my eye out to see the very best dressed myself, I have been hitting New York’s amazing shops and seeing my first of many plays this city has to offer.

On Broadway this afternoon I was able to see “The Elephant Man” staring Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper has to be one of my favorite actors at the moment. He plays characters ranging from “The Hangover” to “Silver Linings Playbook” to “American Hustle,” and seamlessly transforms himself into his role. In “The Elephant Man,” Bradley Cooper’s character, John, the Elephant Man, is a deformity. He is physically unappealing, has trouble with speech, and, to most, is nothing more than “an imbecile.” When we are first introduced to him, we see Bradley Cooper- normal, attractive, and stripped down to his bare boxer shorts. The Doctor, played by Alessandro Nivola (who also happened to play the love interest in “Coco Before Chanel”), using photographs of the real Elephant Man on a framed screen, points out his cauliflower bulges, grotesque hand, and a single pink reddened bone sticking out of his mouth, turning his upper lip inside out. The Doctor walks us through the reason he must always walk with a cane, his left side heavier than his other, his head, too large to sleep on as he wouldn’t be able to get up. Simultaneously, Bradley Cooper begins to take on the deformities, he lurches forward, mouth contorted, and a hand, wrapped around itself, no makeup, no clothes, yet completely transformed.

The play was moving. It was thoughtful and hinted at our own self obsession, our own self value. The Elephant Man becomes us. The characters in the show say how he has affected them, how they see something reflected in him that they see in themselves. I begin to see things in him that I see in myself– an artistic sensibility and a sensitivity to the feelings of others– or hope others see in me. He was to many, a charity project, someone they could rest on and feel good about themselves for treating well because they helped out. No one really knew him. He wanted to change into a normal person, the Doctor wanted him to have a life as close to normal as possible. Although I’ll omit the tragic end, trying to be normal became his end.

Bradley Cooper was able to transform into a deformed and grotesque man simply by body language. Although judging by appearance is considered a fault, we can’t forget how powerful it really is. The way you hold yourself, present yourself, talk nicely and intelligently translates your personality fast. Dressing well and dressing to show yourself off is the fastest way to make your presence known. The Elephant Man, although deformed, was likable, he spoke well and thoughtfully. I dress for myself because it shows off my interests. I dress to look interesting; to look like I have ideas, and that I am passionate about something. Fashion week is the home to the boldest and most inventive people out there, you can tell simply by how they dress that they are changing culture. I can’t wait to share my week with all of you, it is going to be phenomenal!


Cecilia Roses