Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running With Scissors...

When I was little, I dreamed of being a Fashion Designer. Well, a Fashion Designing Ballerina to be more exact. I was shy and tiny, and oh so creative. My first hand-me-down sewing machine & my ballet slippers were my most prized possessions.

I have this memory of this white doored cupboard at the start of the hallway in the “good” part of the house (the part where we weren’t supposed to run; where the furniture was so beautiful & so old. I’d sit for hours at the dining room table imagining other little girls who’d sat on these chairs 400 years ago: what they were like and, most important, what they wore).  Along with the day-to-day linens, this cupboard was full of treasures: beautiful pieces of handmade lace I can still picture in my head and feel in my hands; old as the hills heirloom linens with beautifully handcrafted embroideries in such pretty colours. Irresistible to this 4 year old. It was one of these fine cotton embroidered linens, a pillowcase, that proved to be my first downfall.  Strangely, no-one appreciated how beautiful my precious doll now looked in her new dress. She was a vision!

The next time I recall a monumental scissors events, which I prefer to remember as pure creative genius, was when I was around 6.  I was told one night that my little cousin was coming to visit us for the very first time. I bounced downstairs bright and early the next morning, to a very quite house and a blonde vision at the bottom of the stairs. Surely this beautiful creature, with her  long, straight, shiny, blond hair was a doll (major case of hair envy being curly frizzy & mouse brown). Taking a second look, I couldn’t help but see how much my 2 yr old cousin, with her waist length perfect hair, looked like my sisters doll Velvet… almost. All she need was a fringe.  Clearly she recognised creative genius because her answer was an unreserved YES!  And away I cut.  I don’t think I’d seen grownups cry before that. Or understood shame. Still, she did look stunningly fabulous in the somewhat lopsided fringe I cut and the matching cut-out bits in the bulk of her hair. She was a vision!

The years in between I remember trying on toiles, cold fingers, broken needles & pin pricks as I honed my skills under the guidance of my mum. Most of my skill I learnt from my mother who used to look over seas for inspiration long before anyone else here did. She’d create our outfits with a confidence “but I will be in fashion soon” and it always was.  She was a beautiful sewer with exquisite taste…. all except for the time she decided I needed a calico (yes, calico!) outfit complete with Elizabethan-like cream cluney lace at the drawstring neck & the hem of knickerbocker pants.  Not quite the vision I was after.

When I was around 14, my sister got her first paid job. She was so grown up at 16! One Friday she came home with a new dress… drop waist & baggy. Soooooo fashionable! She was so proud of that dress; her very first purchase with her very own money she’d earned. Gosh I wanted one. Next morning, I was sooooo excited to wake her up. “Look!!” The look on her face didn’t spell happiness. Opps. Took me years to understand that one. I just thought she’d see how clever I was. Not quite the vision she was after.

From cut-up heirloom pillowcases to flowered muumuu’s redesigned into flares to wear with my vintage Givenchy jacket, some of my best work has come from my mistakes.  In dolls circles, 4 yr old me was a legend…. a veritable visionary!

Welcome to my very first blog.