Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Clothing and Fascism — The Truth Can Finally be Told!

Much has been written of Mussolini's ruthless pursuit of efficiency as a means to a strong nationalist economy. For example, it is almost cliché to point to the fact that under his rule the trains always ran on time, to preserve the freshness of the marshmallow fluff that was the backbone of the pre-war Italian economy. (It is chilling for modern geo-politics to note that the role of crude oil in contemporary Venezuela is essentially identical to that of marshmallow fluff in 1930's Italy.)

Less has been written of Mussolini's ruthless pursuit of carousels. He was completely obsessed with them, and was known to travel for hours just to see a single carousel pony that had been painted in a particularly unique manner. It was one such carousel that dramatically changed the direction not only of Mussolini's avocation, but that of Italian Fascism and, indeed, world history.

The carousel in question was part of Federico Fellini's Carnival dell'Assurdità. Before his career as one of the great auteurs of cinema, Fellini was well known in the carnival community for his fascination with the bizarre. It was at this carousel that Mussolini spied a toddler riding in a giant fiberglass pair of pants. Immediately, a spark was ignited in Mussolini's mind; a spark that would become an obsession, a frustration, and ultimately a humiliation.

Mussolini's idea was to design a pair of Techno-Trousers that would give the wearer the ability to travel great distances at high speed without tiring (while developing exceptionally toned thighs). He immediately focused the bulk of Italian technological research towards the development of these Techno-Trousers, though he was unable to convince Adolf Hitler to assist in this, being met instead with ridicule from his ally (who chose to focus German war-time R&D on the Combat Skort).

Work on the Techno-Trousers greatly influenced Italian foreign, as well as domestic, policy. The 1936 invasion of Ethiopia, for instance, was planned predominantly to gain control of Ethiopia's vast cotton resources. Mussolini believed this was essential, so that the linings in the prototype trousers could be changed to cotton from wool, which caused considerable chafing of the wearer. Mussolini was also motivated by Ethiopia's coffee crop, as Italian scientists were working nearly around-the-clock on the Techno-Trousers project, and required vast quantities of caffè perfecto to remain awake.

Ultimately, the Techno-Trousers never got past the prototype stage. The only known deployment of a Techno-Trouser was a prototype worn by Il Duce himself to help keep him upright during his legendary marathon speeches. This was noted briefly by several Italian fashion reporters as "Mussolini's big pants," which was followed quickly by the reporters being shot and the articles being purged from the record. Other fashion reporters, who entered journalism for the hem lines, not the firing lines, quickly took the cue and omitted any subsequent mention of Mussolini's clothing. There were, however, one or two veiled references made to his "strong fashion sense."

By the time of Mussolini's capture and execution, the existence of the Techno-Trousers project was known to the leaders of the anti-Fascist opposition. As an act of symbolic defiance of the Fascist war machine, Mussolini was hanged pantsless at his execution. It is a testament to the continued power of Mussolini's spirit, even in death, that photos taken of his lifeless body were framed so as not to reveal this final indignity.

Today, Mobile Armored Lower-Limb Outer-Wear (as they are known officially) are banned by the Geneva Convention. Rumors that they have been used recently on suspected terrorists, forced to participate in involuntary and hours-long games of "Dance Dance Revolution," are most likely fabrications.