Considering approximately 25% of our elementary education was dedicated to Christopher Columbus you would think we would know a little more about him. Every year, the American people get a day off to pay homage to a dictatorial drug addict (That “spice” he was searching for was a little substance called ‘opium’) with no sense of direction, who never actually set foot on American soil, but still left a scourge of misery and syphilis in his wake. This semi-pointless Haute and Dangerous Columbus Day Special celebrates this semi-pointless holiday with an account of the most stylish historical figures through the ages. Put down that opium pipe and read on:
Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile
If modern advancements in the field of Archaeology have taught us anything, it’s that
Cleopatra wasn’t sexy. Regardless, her legendary charm and intellect not only allowed her to seduce two of the most powerful men of her time (three if you count her brother), but well over 2,000 years after her death she endures as one of the ultimate historical hotties. So what can we learn from Cleopatra? You can get any guy you want by bathing in donkey’s milk, packing on the kohl eyeliner and sneaking into his house by rolling yourself up in a Persian rug. Say what you want, but girlfriend’s got style. Even her untimely death – bitten in the boob by a venomous asp, surrounded by handmaidens and jewels – had a certain element of morbid glam to it. When you’re Queen of the Nile anything less than high maintenance would be disappointing.
The Byzantine Empire
The Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire were the Antiquated equivalent of Paris and Nicky Hilton. Technically the same, but with a few key differences. While the notorious Roman Empire of legend (Paris) fell victim to its gaudy, power-hungry, prideful excesses, the Byzantines (Nicky) were more cultured, intellectual, and showed enough poise and discretion to actually be taken seriously. Even after the rest of Rome collapsed, the Byzantine capital of Constantinople continued to flourish until it was conquered by the Ottomans (the people, not the furniture) in 1493.
Constantinople was renowned by the ancient world for its advancements in government, education, trade, and the arts, which peaked under the rule of the Emperor Justinian I and his wife, the Empress Theodora. After her father, a professional bear keeper, was mauled to death, the young Theodora took up exotic dancing to support her family. It was in this erotic arena she happened to capture the eye, and eventually the heart, of the young Emperor. Theodora came from nothing to become one of the most powerful women of the age. It is a common cliche that, “Behind every man is a great woman,” and this is certainly true of Theodora, as her husband’s deep love and respect allowed her to become the true ‘power behind the throne’ during one of the most successful reigns in history. Just like with our girl Cleo, Theodora is living proof of just how far a little sex appeal will take you.
History books will tell you that this is when things got a little hectic, but at least everyone looked fabulous. Tragically, Marie Antoinette was so preoccupied with her petticoats, so dazzled by the brilliance of her coiffeur, that she hardly noticed the crowds of angry, starving peasants, armed with torches and pitchforks, camped outside the palace gates(unfortunately, nothing quells an angry mob like a severed head).
Those pesky Colonists won the Revolutionary War because unlike the decked-out British troops, those Minutemen weren’t afraid to get their uniforms dirty whilst popping out of the bracken for a surprise ambush. Getting dirt out of white breeches is always a struggle, but had stain remover existed back in the 1700s, history may have taken a decidedly different turn.
The alleged godfather of glam rock and arguably one of the greatest writers of all time, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was stylish in every aspect of his life, from his literary genius, to his world-famous wit, to his dandy dressing. A true celebrity, the public gobbled up every salacious details of her personal life, from his absinthe-fueled party-hard lifestyle, to his eccentric habits (he had a pet lobster he would walk on a leash and was known to hail a cab to cross the street), to his scandalous love life. It’s not surprising that Wilde was the originator of the quote, “I can resist everything except temptation.” When his refusal to hide his love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas lead to his tragic downfall, Wilde remained stylish to the very end. He died penniless in a cheap French hotel, his last words rumored to be something like, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has to go.”
To dress well is a right. To live stylishly is an art. Who are your fav historical figures who have successfully achieved both the former and the latter?