In 1973 Salvador Dali published his cookbook Les Diners des Gala (Diner for a Gala) in which 136 recipes over 12 chapters are printed with his ubiquitous collages, pictures of the bizarre creations and photos of Dali himself with world class chefs. The food itself isn’t really that odd, with recipes like ‘Roast side of Beef and vegetables’ and “Lobster Tail in Tomato Sauce”, what is truly iconic are his presentations.

I have always aspired to be a party host, watching countless episodes of Martha Stewart Living, The Barefoot Contessa, and Nadia G’ Bitchin Kitchen. I’ve always aspired to be dressed in my finest, cooking course after course of unique and delicious meals for my friends. Right now it seems a little far-fetched, I live in a compact 1 bedroom apartment, with a small dining room table that is currently covered in burlesque costume ephemera.  But I still pick up items for the eventual parties I will throw, items like plates, cups, serving bowls, silverware or what else would add to the over all atmosphere. I have the goal of throwing regular parties so crazy, with artists, thinkers and influencers that it becomes legendary. Until then, I will just continue to pin food ideas in my pinterest board and continue collecting pieces for my future parties. 

At the beginning of The Haunting of Hill House—the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel upon which Netflix’s 10-part series is based—Eleanor Vance takes a car (her sister’s; stolen) and sets out on a journey with the scantest possible information. She has been invited to a house, possibly haunted, by a man she doesn’t know, because she had a childhood encounter with a poltergeist.

Unlike Netflix’s family-centric adaptation, Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House involves the meeting of four strangers—Dr. Montague, who has contrived the trip; Luke Sanderson, heir to Hill House; Eleanor; and a young woman named Theodora—who find themselves in a house beset by escalating psychic disturbances. This is a ghost story in which ghosts are seldom seen; a horror story without gore. If horror relies on acts of transgression to deliver its chills, then The Haunting of Hill House is uniquely attuned to the transgressive implications of wearing another person’s clothes.

Eleanor sets off to Hill House armed with gloves, a pocketbook, a light coat. These are sensible items, appropriate to her dull New York City life. She’s someone who would choose neutral, non-assertive hues. Camel, maybe. Dark brown. Navy blue. But on the back seat, concealed in her suitcase, are clothes Eleanor has bought herself specifically for the occasion. They are clothes that embody the kind of person she wishes to be: a bright red sweater, red shoes, and even—“excited at her own daring”—two pairs of slacks. This impulse is a familiar one. Who hasn’t, on the precipice of a holiday, recklessly bought a wardrobe’s worth of aspirational clothing? You imagine you will be different. More relaxed. You will be lighter, prettier, more at ease. You will be the kind of person who drinks brandy. You will make new friends. It’s easy to be seduced by this kind of thinking. New clothes offer the possibility of reinvention.