Things I Feel Big Love For: The FLDSPosted: May 6, 2011
Originally posted January 13, 2010
Long before HBO ever decided to give us the joy that is Big Love, I was having my own lovefest with fundamentalist Mormons. I once even traveled 300 miles out of my way just to drive through the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, the former seat of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
I felt too much like an interloper to actually get out of my car, so instead I drove through the tiny hamlet taking photos with my phone, hoping to get a glimpse of some sister wives. I didn’t see anyone save for two guys in a pickup truck who barely noticed me in my bland rental car. So much for making friends with the locals.
My FLDS love was reaffirmed this past Sunday, when a new season of Big Love aired to jolt my memory of just what it is that I like so darn much about this sect of fun-loving fashionistas. Before you start in to remind me of all the reasons why I should not like the FLDS, let me beat you to it.
Yes, I understand that FLDSers don’t like the gays, and I love the gays, and that FLDSers are majorly conservative, and I am majorly not conservative, and that FLDSers believe in polygamy as a means to salvation, and I don’t really feel like salvation is in the cards no matter how many wives you can grab yourself while serving out your lot on Earth. I don’t care. I still love them. Even if I do find the whole Joy Book concept reprehensible.
You see, I like a cult. And fundamentalist Mormons, while they would disagree, seem to me to pretty much fall under the general cult umbrella. They have a living prophet with questionable morals, they practice a group-love lifestyle in odd permutations of nuclear families, and they shun outsiders. All of these are good enough reasons for me to consider them a cult and therefore good enough reasons for me to be utterly fascinated with all things FLDS. Especially the fashion.
The ladies of the FLDS have a very unique approach to personal style. Much like the Guidos and Guidettes of Jersey Shore, this style is not influenced in any way by current trends or good taste. But unlike Snooki et al., the FLDS women dress extremely conservatively in their home-sewn, pastel, dowdy frocks (a cross between Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax and Melissa Gilbert’s Little House on the Prairie costume), their white ankle socks and their random footwear choices—everything from hiking boots to Cobbie Cuddlers. Their hair is unbelievably good. That high pompadour in front and French braid in back? So many originality points, the hair alone should lock up a place in Heaven for them.
In the months following the April 2008 raid by the state of Texas on the Yearning for Zion Ranch (FLDS moved their headquarters from Colorado City/Hildale to Eldorado when their prophet Warren Jeffs was arrested in 2006), you could find the whole robin’s-egg array of FLDS dresses for sale online at fldsdress.com, but apparently there seems to have been either an overwhelming demand for them and they’re sold out, or (more likely) the women caught flack from the court of public opinion and decided to take their handiwork offline.
Now if you type in fldsdress.com you are redirected to the main page of the FLDS, where you can read about the injustices visited upon the sect when the Texas authorities took 468 children away from their mothers. No more puffy pink dresses. No more lovely lavender. No more yummy yellow. No more minty green. No more powder blue. Sigh.
Luckily for TV viewers they didn’t take down the Website before the clever wardrobe team at Big Love got their hands on a few items. On Sunday, I noticed that the ladies of the fictional Juniper Creek were wearing some of the aforementioned pastel dowdy dresses. Alby’s wife Laura was all in a panic in a lemon yellow dress, which just like on the real FLDS women, looked to be about three sizes too big for her. And Chloë Sevigny as Nicolette Grant was wearing a pair of hiking boots with her long skirt and high-necked ruffled-collar blouse.
Of course La Sevigny is too hot for them to put her in an actual FLDS dress, and she gets instead a formfitting modernized version that I actually think works since she’s supposed to be out in the world hiding her celestial marriage in plain sight and all. Nicki’s secret child, Cara Lynn, was also wearing the real-deal dowdy dress as seen on the FLDS women in their star turn on the news last year—and her French braid is KILLER.
Now I know that these costumes were around for the first couple of Big Loveseasons, but this time around, the devil is in the details—the braids are better, the hiking boots are clunkier, and the pastels are like a Paas egg-dyeing kit at Easter. I’m thankful that the FLDS women got their Internet enterprise off the ground, even if it was only for a little while and even if the only people who bought from them were costumers at Big Love and those looking for a good Halloween costume. I’m just sad I wasn’t one of the lucky purchasers. It’s my own fault. I could never decide between lavender and light blue.