“Armed & Fabulous!” – Fiction by David X. Wiggin

Dolce & Gabbana advertisement - Steven Meisel, 2006
Dolce & Gabbana advertisement – Steven Meisel, 2006

It’s a sick, sad world we live in, friends, and violence & grief are hotter than ever this season– just like in “Armed & Fabulous!”, David X. Wiggin‘s brutally satirical short story from our Fall 2015 issue.

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LAST YEAR’S TREND WAS THE DEADLIEST IN DECADES, transforming the fashion world from a familiar Sodom into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, littering the runways with corpses and earning Madison Avenue the title of “most dangerous street in America.”

It began with the brutal murder of supermodel Alison Abigail.  One sweltering July evening, the nineteen-year-old Calvin Klein model went clubbing with her friends, her honey-colored hairs twined in those famous pigtails.  According to reports, she left Club Gonzo shortly after 2 A.M. on the arm of an unknown man.  Her disappearance, a national tragedy, became national trauma when her mutilated body was found floating in the Hudson two weeks later, pigtails chopped off.  Right away people blamed the industry.  Alison was branded a martyr in nearly every circuit of the media. Shows were picketed.  Bottles of the perfume she represented were shattered on the street outside the Calvin Klein offices.

While its tasteful battlements shook from the onslaught of a hysterical country, the fashion world was being torn apart from within.  Models withdrew from the public sphere for fear of the uncaptured killer.  A popular designer quit the business altogether out of remorse.  Nearly a third of the clothes designed that year were black.

Eventually the one-year anniversary of Alison’s death rolled around.  In a move of brilliant marketing, crass Calvin Klein produced the Alison Abigail Memorial Fragrance.  This perfume did not tingle with the gentle scent of flowers or fizzle with the electric dry smell of the sea.  It burned and blasted like wrathful mace.  It was in fact wrathful mace stored in a heavy steel spray-flask, itself a suitable accessory for bashing in the head of a blinded mugger.  First produced only in limited edition quantities, the Alison Abigail Memorial Fragrance was a surprise hit.  Sentimental fashionistas swept them off the shelves and wore them on chains or clipped to their belts.  It didn’t matter that the flasks were heavy and hideous—everyone was proud to wear them.  They provided a sense of solidarity and empowerment.  Here was an item both chic and deadly.  And because the A.A.M. Fragrance was technically a perfume, it was perfectly legal.

Not to be outdone, Donna Karan produced a silver commemorative dagger.  A good three inches longer than the legal limit, the curved blade was designed by a famous silversmith and inscribed in delicate cursive with the banal phrase: “NEVER AGAIN.”  It was the sort of tasteless knick-knack you’d see at the Alamo—only these knick-knacks were sharp enough to castrate a horse.  The day after the dagger went on the market, stabbings in New York City quintupled.

One popular item makes for a surprise success. Two popular items of the same sort makes for a fad.  Inspired by this new trend and the millions it promised, other labels wasted no time in designing weaponry of their own. There was a Louis Vuitton bullwhip- fifteen feet of wicked leather, stamped with that ubiquitous LV logo. The Prada pistol, inspired by a 17th century flintlock design, complete with weak range, poor aim, and spined bullets for a painful death. Marc Jacobs released a lightweight kukri guaranteed to “take the head off an ox with a single blow” while Ralph Lauren’s steel-headed polo mallets could crush said bovine’s skull like a Fabergé egg.  Before you knew it, well-dressed men and women everywhere were bristling with enough weaponry to make Arnold Schwarzenegger take a step back and cover his groin. With all these sharp points in easy hands, it was only a matter of time before someone lost an eye. There was some attempt by concerned citizens to address this, but the craze was much too popular and the lawyers of the fashion world were powerful beyond imagining. They uncovered long-obscured loopholes through which designers could smuggle out their works into the hands of their hungry fans. After all, they insisted through their viper-smiles, these were just fashion accessories, not intended for violent use.

Nevertheless, it was for violence that many of these ‘accessories’ were used.  Common sense dictates, after all, that drugged-up parties and deadly weapons rarely make for a pleasant or dull combination. Bullets and blades replaced jeers and gossip in the socialite’s arsenal. Feuding Beautiful People snarled and stabbed at one another across the bar. “Snipes” became literal when up-and-coming designer Anthony Delacroix was publicly executed on a crowded SoHo street from five hundred meters away by a jealous rival armed with the newest Valentino “Reddest Rose” rifle. At fashion shows, coats bulged with concealed body armor and exotic weaponry while the girls on the runway slung this month’s bejeweled AK-47s across their slender backs.

“I don’t go anywhere without my Versace repeating mini-crossbow, baby!” declared supermodel Heidi Klum, displaying the purse-sized projectile weapon, armed with a curare-envenomed tip. In August, Naomi Campbell caused a fuss when she skewered her assistant on an Azzedine Alaia scimitar.

“Maybe I lost my temper,” the supermodel admitted in an interview some weeks later, “but the bitch brought me a non-soy latte. She had it coming.”

No longer were models the objects for lustful gazing, they had become creatures to respect and avoid—leopards and wolves in six-inch heels. They traveled in packs, formed gangs and in the manner of tribal warriors paying homage to their totem spirits, painted their faces with fashion logos. There were the “Razor Chrysanthemums” and the “Catwalk Bitches.” The helmet-haired “Lulus” ruled Chelsea, while the “Gucci Zulus” called Tribeca their home. A colorful band of boys calling themselves the “Velvet Mafia” took to harassing poorly-dressed passersby and inevitably began a turf war with the “Fashion Police” that didn’t end well for anyone. There wasn’t much that the regular police could do. For every hundred-pound Ethiopian swordswoman they put away, there were two ninety-pound Swedes with blowguns to replace her.

Considering all the puffed-up egos that crowd the insular fashion world, it was only a matter of time before dueling became all the rage. Pistols at dawn, swords at dusk, vodka and pills at mid-afternoon.  Any form of one-on-one battling you can think of was participated in nearly every day.  If you got up early and took a walk through the park last September, you just might have spotted that week’s “it” girl trading brass-knuckle sandwiches with next week’s. The tabloids ecstatically recounted celebrity duels and who could blame them? Last year all we heard about was Angie’s “shocking sex video!” Now the gossip rags couldn’t quit with her flying guillotine and her sixty-six consecutive kills. The video of Vera Wang beating an uppity intern to death with her three-rod iron nunchucks was a hit on YouTube—reappearing time and again, shaded in funny colors, slowed down, or re-dubbed with Broadway show tunes.

Something had to be done.  New York was more dangerous now than it had ever been.  The mayor and his advisors set up elaborate and immediate strategies to coordinate mass arrests with search-and-seizures.  Martial law was to be declared.  They would wipe out these gangs and renegade warriors by the end of the month.  But the mayor underestimated the reach of the fashion world—after all, someone had to make those specially-tailored suits he wore every day. The televised press conference to announce this ‘War on Tasteful Terror’ was interrupted by a troop of well-cut young men clad only in Hanes and Kalashnikovs.

“This city belongs to us now,” declared their ethnically ambiguous leader, a haughty gleam in his otherwise dead eyes. “Let the reign of the beautiful people begin!”

And so it did.

New Yorkers watched from their windows as battalions of beauties marched up and down the avenues, showing off their tasteful new uniforms in coordinated fall colors.  The poorly dressed and the overweight were rounded up and taken to “Pygmalion Re-Education Centers” in Williamsburg. A committee of the best designers was assembled to give Manhattan a makeover. The rest of the boroughs, excepting some parts of Brooklyn, would serve as detention centers for the unfashionable and unwanted. Laws were passed that made certain items of clothing illegal, others mandatory. These laws changed daily.  The landscape of the city was transformed.  Artists and designers, mad with power, draped the bridges in giant rolls of silk.  The Empire State Building was fitted with a forty-story red dress.  Dolphins frolicked in the East River.  Foods with a calorie count over the legal limit could only be found on the black market—consequently many families went hungry. Churches were bulldozed to make room for deluxe meditation centers and air-conditioned yoga studios. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Of course the United States government could not stand by. After the initial bout of shock and disbelief, the military was sent into action. The mood was grim as trucks filled with men and women rumbled towards New York City. It was known at this point that the enemy had obtained weapons of mass destruction and there were rumors of biological weapons such as designer plagues that could turn bodies into rotting rainbows and couture hallucinogens to disorient enemies with erotic visions. The brown note had been discovered; they would be forced to evacuate their bowels to the tune of a remixed Madonna album. Their deaths would be as horrible as they were beautiful. Many a desperate prayer was whispered by an American soldier that day, but they went bravely into battle. After all, New York was only the beginning.  Well-dressed guerillas were mobilizing in the Hollywood Hills and Paris was a war zone. One cosmopolitan city after another would fall until the cruel and arbitrary laws of fashion ruled the world. Their children would be forced to wear sweaters with pretentiously misspelled brand names and impractical shoes. Fingers tightened over rifle barrels and hard jaws set themselves into determined grimaces. That could not be allowed to happen, no matter what the cost.

They stopped outside of the city limits and set up camp.  The seven four-star generals in charge of the assault discussed strategy while scouts were sent out to collect intel. The city was strangely quiet. There was no sign of any defenses. No perfectly-proportioned soldiers in the streets, no fortified skyscrapers, no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in sight. Anticipating an ambush, they cautiously sent a team of SEALs in to investigate.

The team crossed the bridge without incident. To their surprise, the city they entered was the bustling, filthy New York of before the coup. Average-looking people walked the streets and at least three major fashion faux pas were spotted in the first hour.  Not so much as a gold-plated taser to be seen. When the SEALs stopped passersby to question them, the response was inevitably a shrug or a nervous laugh. Nobody talked about the horror of the past year and no sign of it remained anywhere. It was as though none of it had ever happened. But how?

The answer became clear in due time. Like all trends—tie-dye, bell-bottoms, and headbands- the fashion world’s infatuation with all things deadly had died. Weapons were embarrassing and old-fashioned now. Only high-school girls with cheap knockoffs from Canal Street dueled anymore. And even the sight of a gang tattoo was enough to get one ostracized from the top social circles. The next month’s issue of Vogue summed it all up with a simple chart: Ultraviolence was out. Cardigans were in. Just like that, it was all over.

            Of course, trends have a way of coming back…

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74962_812727281055_1850019726_nDAVID X. WIGGIN barely escaped Brooklyn with his life, though he still occupies New York City. You can find his most recent fiction on Pseudopod and in Black Treacle Magazine– or follow his ramblings at http://davidxwiggin.livejournal.com/ or@WigginIn.

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