Lady Bracknell Seeks Costume

Lady Augusta Bracknell,
104 Upper Grosvenor Square,
(the fashionable side).

The Editor,
“Intentions” magazine.

Dear Madam,
Please excuse this mode of appeal but existing, as I disconcertingly do, only in the late-nineteenth century I have no access at all to electronic mail. Nor, in fact, to any kind of modern “media” – not even for ready money.

I am one of the more notable creations of Mr Oscar Fingal O’Fflahertie Wills Wilde – of whom you have no doubt heard? Every person seems to have heard of Mr Wilde nowadays; even young persons – which is interesting.

I am usually to be found tightly contained within Act One and Act Three of Mr Wilde’s very popular play “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Of late, however, I have been broken free and now exist in an additional drama – a sequel, no less – written, this time, by Mr Paul Doust. And herein lies the difficulty… For although the charming Mr Doust has much to recommend him, personally – he has absolutely no financial resources whatsoever. Consequently, the clothing he has provided me with (that which we in The Theatre refer to as “Costume”) is, to say the least, of questionable quality. Indeed, it needs, as a matter of considerable urgency, to be replaced in every particle!

At one time my trusty maid-cum-milliner, Edith, might have stretched her skills a little and “run up” as she would have said “a nifty little number” for me. Edith, however, has recently, and rather too completely in my opinion, died. This, her doctors inform me, was in reaction to a rare water-borne botulism – although it took the gaggle of physicians who attended to “Miss Evans” (as they for some peculiar reason referred to her) some days, and the application of several magnifying glasses, to verify her strangely aquatic and brutally distorting expiry.

As for my husband, poor Lord Bracknell, he is now so very femininized that he cannot possibly be expected to excel at needlecraft – nor, indeed, any such masculine endeavour. Besides, his “mental health” has become so extremely impaired of late that the cure his own doctors have been obliged to apply has rendered him quite incapable, now, of all manual – indeed all bodily – exertion (he lies, at this very moment, in a darkened room – where he is gripped by both sanity and a straight-jacket).

I hope the above explains why, in desperation, I have turned to yourself and your readers. I wonder if there is, perhaps, within your membership (or even beyond it?) a person, of any aspect, remotely connected with costumery? And, if there is, might he, or indeed she, be both willing and able to assist me in my quest for a new – or at least even partly new – gown, hat, shoes, blouse jacket, under-skirt and gloves? In short, a sartorial ensemble that more befits my unquestionable standing?

I am open to offers (as I believe estate agents say). Perhaps there is an existing costume that could be adapted to my needs? Or is there, miraculously, a person who might fashion me a brand-new outfit, complete? “Bottom to bosom”, as Edith would so graphically have had it. I enclose a recent illustration that may be of assistance to your readers.

Please note: The person modelling the “costume” in the said illustration is, in fact, Mr Doust himself. Mr Doust, so I have been told, is often to be seen impersonating me in his very own play! You will see from the picture that Mr Doust’s costume, as I have said, is more than usually sadly lacking; in this case sadly lacking an entire upper-half. And even the lower half, as you will note, is of the most deplorable kind – made-up, as it most surely is, of the over-skirt cast-off of a “risqué” theatrical character known affectionally, I am told, as “Slam That Door, Nora” (as featured, I believe, in a light, domestic comedy by Mr H Ibsen – of Norway). And below the aforementioned over-skirt we can surely discern a pair of grotesquely unfashionable drawing-room curtains masquerading as a finely wrought under-skirt? But oh, how absurdly unsuccessful is this deceit? Need I say more?

Given my distress at this entire situation I would ask that all offers of assistance be addressed, in the first instance, to Mr Doust, directly. Mr Doust will then filter and translate all such offers to me – mindful of my sensitivity on the subject. Mr Doust, unlike myself, does have access to the inter-web – and can be contacted on:

I thank both you and your readers/members for your kind and well-informed interest – and now hand you over to Mr Doust, exclusively. I know, without doubt, that he will be extremely pleased to hear from you.

Yours affectionately,
Lady Augusta Bracknell.