Today, a quick rummage through the closet of French writer Raymond Roussel, who we met about a year ago (along with his distinctly odd campervan).
Born in 1877, Roussel exhibited surpassing strangeness both as man and artist. One constant throughout his life was a love of dressing up, instilled, as these photos show, at an early age. In his costume as in his travels, Roussel was drawn to the exotic and the unknown, though for this son of privilege the life of a chambermaid was as exotic as anything he found in the South Seas. In and out of uniform, on- and offstage, Roussel’s meticulous self-presentation was complemented by a fear of dirt, which if not literally an OCD was definitely OTT.
In his book Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams, Mark Ford describes a man who took a diva-worthy two hours to get ready in the evening, and who “consigned as many as twenty-five handkerchiefs a week to the hotel laundry” when he stayed a the Ritz. What’s more: “To make sure he never wore a suit or overcoat too often, he took the precaution of having a small square of material sewn into the lining, on which he kept a tally of its use: after the item had been work fifteen times it was passed on to his valet.”
Somehow it’s hard to imagine the help in hand-me-downs like this: