The Falling Leaves of St. Pierre

This summer the performance duo Los Super Elegantes debuted their third play, a musical entitled The Falling Leaves of St. Pierre, at Javier Peres’ new space in Chinatown. The story unravels within the House of St. Pierre, where the renowned fashion designer, a visionary in sunglasses and an ivory caftan, conjures his newest lines. The period is undetermined, but there are suggestions of late-1960s ambienceskirts are short and protests are erupting across Europe. As the audienceattendees and curious passersby alikeremained sitting or standing outside in the alleyway, the actors performed entirely in the storefront windows of the gallery, posing in the brightly lit nooks like mannequins on display, coming to life to act out the story of the clothes they were draped with.

According to its authors, The Falling Leaves of St. Pierre deals with sadistic relationships in a working environment, but thats really only secondary information. Yes, there are the overworked assistants Penny and Areski (Musquiz and Lopez-Crozet) who go to great lengths to please their master. Areski is persistently buggered and has contracted every disease possible,” while Penny is the busy-body with political aspirationsshe wants to go to Berlin with her friends to piss on the Wall. But the play, like the duos musical offerings, deals more with isolating moments of stylewith identifying cultural triggers and weaving these aesthetically loaded icons into a semblance of narrativethan with developing the characters beyond caricatures. Pierres paragon, Gina Fontaine, a freon-blooded teenage model with the look that has made the designers frockery a sensation, hides a tortured soul behind her severe wig and chilly demeanor. If you saw me for one instant as I am, she warns formulaically, Terrified you would call a doctor, an ambulance. The most human face in the House of St. Pierre is Anouk, the overworked French maid, who, starving for both affection and nutrition, subsists on used condoms that are strewn about the castle floor from Pierre and Areskis trysts.

In this poisoned refuge Los Super Elegantes have hidden clues to their own creative regimen, specifically in the mad methodology that is St. Pierre’s free association approach to fashion design. “Chardonnay! he shouts. Golden showers! Chinese satin! respond his helpers. Afternoon maxi dress dipped in lemon juice colors, suggests the eager Areski to which the pensive designer screams Bravo! As in an encounter group setting, a series of images or scenarios are tossed out rapidly, contemplated, and then molded to the right shape to be thrown immediately into the pot or filed away for later use. This is Los Super Elegantes in action.