The New York Times did a profile of everybody’s favorite high fashion clotheshorse Daphne Guinness over the break and (seemingly) coined such a striking term that we had to investigate further:

Actors in a social theater, as we all are, they rise above the ordinary by giving sartorial performances unfettered by the bonds of convention or propriety or practicality or, often enough, common sense. Daphne Guinness is one such wonderful oddity. Over the last year, hers has been among the most startling, engaging and snake-fascinating presences on the scene.

As far as I knew, this was not a real term, or at least it didn’t turn up on Merriam Webster or Googling found some enthusiastic recommendations for the pet reptile of your dreams and a video or two I cannot unsee.

So. What is “snake-fascinating”? Is it to be “like a snake charmer,” as in you go about fascinating snakes (by being snake-fascinating), thus you are seductive and charming? …Or is it to be fascinating like a snake: with their alien features, winding about demonically? …Or is inventing a synonym for startling and engaging just more fun?

In an informal poll of the office, to be “one who engages in the activity of fascinating snakes” (like a snake charmer) was the clear winner.

But, we were wrong. We contacted the piece’s author Guy Trebay and asked him. Trebay explained he took it to “refer to the way snakes are said to entrance their victims. They get hypnotized.”

Thus, this week’s fashion vocabulary term is:

([sneyk] [fas-uh-ney-ting])
Captivating or mesmerizing in the manner snakes are captivating to their prey. Let’s use it in a sentence:

“The Spring 2010 Alexander McQueen campaign is snake-fascinating.”

[Photo of Guinness via NYT, McQueen campaign courtesy The Style Registry]