Added: Wan Sabia - Date: 13.10.2021 21:53 - Views: 11090 - Clicks: 738
The women dress as a character in a painting, replicating the clothes worn and the scene presented. Lily's 'pale draperies' throw her beauty into relief, but their soft ephemeral quality remind us that time's ravages will take Lily's beauty too, her only asset. Lily's costume reveals her artistry but also that she is a possession to be acquired, sold and potentially discarded. It highlights the fact that Lily is only beauty. As a penniless orphan with neither education nor concrete skills, she is not daughter, not wife, not mother. In the terms of her narrow world, Lily is no one. Clothes are often given a bad rap.
They are seen as frivolities; an excessive interest in them, particularly in women, indicates superficiality, vanity, probably both.
When I was at university I remember letting slip to a male friend that we had a subscription to English Vogue at home and the utter contempt of his response. Here, though, I make a claim, as the strident yet vulnerable Elizabeth in Helen Garner's The Children's Bach does, for an attention to clothes as a kind of artistry. I am also interested, as was the artist Louise Bourgeois, in the symbolic nature of clothes: how they might have shaped me but also how they reflected my emotional life. Bourgeois said, 'You can retell your life…by the shape, weight, colour and smell of those clothes in your closet They are like the weather, the ocean, changing all the time'.
In a of works Bourgeois cut up her own clothes, even hanging them from bones to evoke their functions as relics of a past life. In motifs circling around sewing and clothing, Bourgeois reflected on her own fractured history — the memories of her family's tapestry restoration business, her Lost clothes stories and that of her mother, for whom 'sewing was reparation' for a complicated marriage, in which her husband introduced his mistress, originally the children's governess, to the household.
I have gone on a journey with clothes. For as long as I can remember they have been more that just covering.
To me clothes have always been emotional, ifying things very personal to me. They represent disguise, play, adornment and art; they remind me of inner and outer; they ify belonging and separation. I know I am depressed when clothes do not matter to me, when they feel pointless, something to throw on in the morning and drop on the floor at night.
A dress brings back a single occasion with its loss or joy, the excitement or pain of being fifteen or thirty. Clothes are reminders of my mother, my friends, long ago boyfriends. When I was pregnant with my third child, a dress of my daughter's, garishly pink and orange patchwork with a bit of floral thrown in over the top, intensified my morning sickness so much so that I had to hide it away.
Is this a measure of a sort of insanity? I was six when I chose, really chosemy first outfit in a conscious way. It consisted of a white T-shirt, white football shorts, white socks and white runners. I put together this ensemble from the wooden dress-up box in our hall. The box had an air of secrets and magic, as if things appeared in it that weren't there before. When I think of myself then I am alone in that hall though often I must have had companions: my friend next door, my cousins who were often over to play, not to mention a family of mother, father and four outward-bound older siblings.
My sisters brought with them bags of dirty washing from their mysterious Bob Dylan-playing share houses, my brothers crashed in and out Lost clothes stories tennis balls, teasing and swearing. Despite all this action I did feel myself to be alone and perhaps the white outfit said this for the first time.
It also said, This is who I am. I locate the beginning of something in the white outfit — the seed that takes me back — for clothes were to become one of my passions. The white ensemble must have belonged originally to one of my brothers, six and eight years older than me. I Lost clothes stories going for a certain look. Soon I would be obsessed with Evonne Goolagong. I spent hours playing cricket with my brothers or whacking a tennis ball against the back wall. There was a slightly musty smell to the T-shirt.
I was proud. I looked good. My sister, however, over from Fitzroy, no doubt bedecked in some '70s creation of overalls and tight T-shirt or floppy '30s inspired floral dress, mocked my Lost clothes stories ensemble and I rushed to change. I wore a Laura Ashley dress, floral with ruffles at the front, no waist, sleeveless. I can remember the dress when I see the photo. It is uncharacteristic, I think now. My early memories are of not wanting to wear dresses. My mother said to me recently that my resistance to wearing them became a source of worry for her.
What would become of me? So how to explain the dress? I look comfortable enough. The light is yellowish; it adds to the '70s feel. Perhaps Mum and Dad brought the dress back from London? A '70s haircut too, something like Jane Fonda in Klute. I stand in a doorway. I am very brown, even my face, with bright blue eyes, freckles, bare brown feet. Before the clothes there was the body. The baring of feet was a matter of honour. I ran up our gravel driveway to make my feet tough and lifted one foot from the couch grass to extract prickles.
I remember, too, the indentations of bark under my feet as I climbed trees, the smoothness of white gum, the scratchiness of pine, the satisfying solidity of oak. Then there was the electric heat of corrugated iron on the roof of the neighbouring school, the scrapey sound of a bare toe stubbed on hot concrete.
Neither self nor other, this transitional space is a site of creation, of play. In my solitary state it seems to me that I explored the edge of me. The limits of me were created as I came up against the world but I also learnt to hold the world in my mind. I sense, too, that the interest in clothes began in these in-between places.
The first awareness of textures and surfaces, of inside and out: peeling skin, bark, grass, warm dirt, frost, stones, blood on a grazed knee. Patterns and colours were here too. I looked closely at prickles, small and star shaped, pulled out bee stings, with their cloying sweet smell, as their sharp pain spread through the arch of my foot. I looked for deep green four leaf clovers as I lay on the Lost clothes stories, the sun dulling my head to stupor.
I pulled apart the veins in leaves and watched ants trawling ridges in the concrete outside our back door. What I wore then, though, was still utilitarian; shorts and T-shirts on weekends and after school my school dress minus the clunky brown shoes that I levered off onto the floor without bothering to undo the laces. The dress, blue and white checked cotton, washed to thinness, didn't stop me climbing and there seemed to be no urging from my mother to change or keep it clean.
I pulled off the belt so it was loose and formless. I felt sensual but earthy, something like a pagan prince or a Peter Pan Figure.
I thought of myself as more boy than girl. I liked climbing in windows instead of walking in doors. I had my hair cut short. I felt proud when the man in the fish and ship shop thought I was a boy. There was a gap, though, between my kingdom at home and the outside world. Once, on the long trail down to primary school, some bigger boy told me I looked pregnant in the beltless school dress creation. I was small and fairly slight but still the comment stayed with me. A question planted itself in me about where I began and ended and the nature of coverings on my body.Lost clothes stories
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A story in clothes