It’s not that little really, in fact, its pretty long.
Party, especially ‘party’ so close to Christmas says ‘long’ to me. I like a bit of a sweep and there are far too few occasions on which sweep is acceptable, so I grab sweep when it’s offered…I think I’ll be the only one again. I can’t help my head being stuck in an MGM extravaganza and firmly attached to Fred Astaire…a dissolute childhood: sunny day, curtains closed against the glare, long frocks and dancing…
I’ve also been having a couture moment. Heaven only knows why when I’ve got Christmas looming and I’m sleep-talking lists and having night panics about stuffing and whether half a bottle of cognac is enough to see us through….Anyhow, I decided that hand stitching the facings and belt would be a good thing, a nod to the tiny, and not always regular, elf-stitched underpinnings of couture. I do like the insides of garments, they tell a story of pricked fingers and relentless unpicking and swearing at the illogical skew-whiffedness and sheer bloody-mindedness of some fabrics….
So here it is. The frock for the sparkly party….all neat and carefree on the outside and stitched into submission on the inside. I put green glass beads on the edges of the belt…my nod to sparkle (and there was plenty of the real stuff there…). It’s made of heavy silk crepe and the braid for the belt came from India via the lovely Cloth House in Soho.
Still feeling a little fragile….
It’s been an odd week. Sad really. I was inspired to write these poems by the the end of a marriage. Someone for whom I had made a wedding dress just a few years ago. She was an easy client. Delightful. It was a joyful time and it now seems pointless. A dress which took months to make and which was nurtured, now not wanted. I know that most people only wear their wedding dress once and then it’s put away in tissue but it’s still felt wherever it’s stored: on a shelf in a linen press, in a bottom drawer, in a mirrored dressing room. It has its place. But when things go awry, it’s a reminder of all that is wrong and the bond breaks.
There was another fitting after that first one.
Then another and another and then it was done.
Hanging, waiting in its white cotton case
Seams steamed open and bound with satin.
Bones anchored with tiny stitches
a silver thimble protecting punctured skin
pushing again and again
to make that curve,
that wasp waist.
Your dress is my dress too:
lived with me,
And I send it away with you and feel it gone.
My wedding dress was black silk velvet and I wore it ’til it fell apart. I still have my coat (it was February and cold) which is wrapped in pink tissue and lives in a box in my wardrobe. It’s made from black and gold Chinese silk with a filigree gold button that belonged to my grandmother.