Throwback Thursday: Looking Like Liza
Liza Minnelli’s appearance at the Oscars last month reminded me that I have a personal “Never Is the Next New Thing™” situation to report.
I usually apply “Never Is the Next New Thing™” to fashion trends, having long observed that the most provocative/grating/startling looks — the ones that make you say, “I would NEVER wear that!” — are the ones most likely to become trends, big or small.
Every so often, I have a private “Never Is the Next New Thing™” transformation. For example, in 2008, I gave the hairy eyeball to Martin Margiela’s famous tabi boots.
In 2011, I had to confess I’d fallen for not just one, but two pairs, of Vivienne Westwood animal-toe shoes. Not the same, obviously, but definitely heading down a new toe path.
More recently, out of the blue, I find myself coveting an actual pair of the Margiela tabis. Fourteen years turned me from a hater into a fan.
Getting back to Liza, I’ve been told I look like her all my life. Even though Cabaret is one of my favorite movies — specifically because Liza is so irresistible in it — I always disliked the comparison. It was never clear from the speaker’s tone if being a Liza-alike was a good thing. In my first couple of months of blogging, back in 2007, I found this kind of comment annoying enough to write a post titled “Life Is Not a Caberet. Stop Calling Me ‘Old Chum’!” because, as I said, “Some guy told me I look like Liza Minnelli, which was not exactly the #1 compliment of my life.”
Five years later, I did get one of the top compliments of my life, related to Liza. The circumstances were memorable I described the moment in a blog post:
“… a man at the table next to us on an L.A. restaurant patio asked, “Do you know who Liza Minnelli is?” I had been peeking at him all night. He was a large man with a white beard who was wearing biker-esque clothes and a black leather top hat, kind of like a rough-trade Santa Claus. He was sharing his bread with his dog, who was bigger than a small pony. I said, “Yes, of course.” He said, “Has anyone ever told you …” and I said, “Oh, people have told me that I look like Liza, though not in a long time.” He said, “No, you don’t look like Liza. You’re what Liza has been trying to look like all her life.” I thanked him and he went back to his bread basket and large dog. The peculiar compliments are often the most gratifying ones, don’t you agree?”
When a rough-trade Santa Claus tells you that you look like Liza’s #goals — well, that’s clearly flattering. Interestingly, I was inwardly defensive of Liza, thinking, “But she’s the original!” At any rate, my attitude changed. In early 2020 — one of my last pre-pandemic social outings — I even paused by Liza’s photo in Carnegie Hall to take a “twins” picture.
I outdid that last Halloween. After watching “Mein Herr” from Cabaret on repeat, I tried my best to go full Liza. I required makeup-artist assistance to fake the skinny brows.
The hat I wore was an old party favor that I kept just in case I ever needed it. (And I DID need it! Packrats for the win!)
The look wasn’t bad but I thought my hat, shoes, and hair could have been better. Also, I had a black manicure rather than Liza’s signature “Divine Decadence” green. Escandaloso! I’ve actually been contemplating a redo next Halloween, just to get it perfect. I can see it now: I’ll wind up dressing like Liza every year, each time making extravagant additions. Check with me in 2025: I’ll probably be carrying a chair, surrounded by dancers in shabby lingerie.