Scantily-clad natives. They are everywhere on the Mainland. Flitting about with their arms, legs, and midsections exposed, seemingly immune to the elements and indifferent to the wandering eyes of others. Even in an age when we, the proud Victorians of Fair Caledon, purport ourselves to have risen above the base urges and imperatives of our predecessors, it seems I find myself using some of my precious paper and inks to record every detail of my hosts' perpetual state of undress.
For it turns out that I have stumbled deep into the very black heart of this barbaric and backward practice! Even now, as I write these words, I am surrounded by the glowing glass plaques owned by Mainland couturiers, depicting what I can only describe as women in that state of undress which Mainlanders, uninitiated into our proud culture of manners, inexplicably consider to be a state of dress.
Doubtless, those readers who happen to find themselves in possession of a Duchy have already ceased to read these words, (probably upon reading the legend "~Scantily-Clad Natives~" at the beginning of this body of work,) and will have long-since discarded these pages into the nearest fire-place. For those Gentle Readers of a less pyrogynistic nature, it is in your interests that I press on.
One might ask how a respectable gentleman such as myself happened to find himself within the confines of an establishment that produces clothing of such unseemly excess in every conceivable area of haute couture except for volume of fabric. It is a fair question, which demands an honest answer.
In lieu of one, let it be known that the exterior of this establishment, which the locals would refer to as a Maul, presents so elegant and refined an appearance as could easily infiltrate the ranks of our own quiet shops and boutiques, were it not for the ingeniously illuminated picture-graphs of the naked women clearly visible through the building's front-doors at all hours of the day or night.
My first thought upon seeing the building's brass facade and iron dome was that a team of airships must have penetrated the Mainland weeks ago, and established this salon as a mid-way amenity for us beleaguered explorers. The plaque above the door even read "HAUTE COUTURE!" I dare say that any one of my countrymen, were he in my position, would have explored the place as thoroughly as I did, checking every nude and scantily-clad panel for some trace of what was surely a Caledonian enterprise.
Unfortunately, all of my inquiries led to naught; it seems that this Maul's architecture, which at first glance seemed distinctly Victorian, is in fact merely a superficially similar style which must have evolved independently on the Mainland. I finally surrendered my cause when I noticed a bit of the wallpaper which had peeled back, and discovered that underneath was not plaster or stucco, but that most hated hallmark of all Mainland architecture: the plywood.
Alas, by this point my psyche was so deeply invested in the idea of a Caledonian enterprise couched in Mainland pretensions, that I had begun to imagine obscure traces of Victorian heritage everywhere. I found that if one imagined the model's nude skin as a backdrop, and the clothes themselves as decorative trim, several of the Mainland's abysmal fashions suddenly begin to make sense. Surely, I thought, the use of fine furs and finely worked leather, and yes, even what looked to be fabric spun of gold, could be put to great effect in the design and sewing of proper Victorian corsets and dresses.
Could it not?
After I left the building, I found that I could not get thoughts of those weird, diminutive garments out of my head. So much potential. So little fabric…
Now I think that I must go, and speak again with some of the locals. Fortune may again see fit to provide me with accommodations for the evening. : )
Students of Architecture wishing to appreciate the mystery of a faux-Victorian boutique mired in the cubist nightmare of a Mainland Maul would do well to discreetly investigate that structure in Pickerel which has the audacity to call itself "Haute Couture." Sadly, I can think of no such appeal to draw the general public of Caledon. There is nothing to see here but the over-priced, under-warm, garishly-coloured women's-wear for sale here, and the Mainland women of unknown virtue who are wont to purchase said attire.