Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/ Haute Couture Inspired by Flora, Designed by Jean Paul Gautier


There were many responses to yesterday's visual treat (silk dress with hand-painted purple irises by Valentino); quite a few were enchanted by the sensual elegance of the garments and accessories, particularly the extravagant head-wear, and others found themselves reminiscing about the past.   One reply in particular was quite moving:  'Ohhh my gosh, I love the dress with the irises! It brings back wonderful memories of the dress I wore to my high school prom. We didn't have the money to buy a new dress, so I drew out what I wanted and my mom sewed it.  Together on those cold MI winter nights we embroidered a smaller spray of flowers than the irises pictured on the front and back of the gown. I wish I still had that dress.'

Haute Couture preserves the almost timeless tradition of custom-fit and individualization.  A client meets with the designer (or his representative who is usually a trusted aide or design accomplice) and discusses the changes; deciding on her choices of fabrics and embellishments/trims/accessories, through multiple fittings and alterations; the lengthy and highly personal sittings in which intimate matters are sometimes discussed:  How will I look in this dress; sexy, youthful, desirable, confident, stately??  will it cover my skinny legs; make me seem to have breasts, a lush tush, etc etc.  Will I be remembered?  In the fitting room, away from the lights/cameras/press/a legion of assistants/trappings of power and privilege/husbands/jealous girlfriends, it is really a heart-to-heart discussion between two individuals about our fears and insecurities, our dreams and desires, our constants and landmarks, and the means of getting from here to there; it is the process of allowing and facilitating the inner beauty of our beings to come forth and crystallize as our outer self.  My mother's first cousin, Alicia Alpuche, was a seamstress in a charming grey cottage by the creek in a small town surrounded by gardens filled with orange trees and bounded by endless fields of sugar-cane plants.  After the harvest and once the farmers had been paid, their wives and girlfriends and daughters would all visit her tiny workroom in giggling, nervous groups of two and three, carrying carefully folded packages of shiny fabric and trims, and sometimes clutching heavily-creased gossip magazines showing painted and pouty screen actresses in attractive ensembles.  Ms Alicia (as she was always known to me) would carefully and patiently pull forth their dreams of being pretty and graceful, of appearing less country and more of a big-city sophisticate, of attracting a boyfriend at the county fair or upcoming quinceanara.  She carefully and meticulously created garments that when worn would make the girls (and women) forget their loose tummies, pear-shaped bodies, knock-knees and skinny arms; instead they felt beautiful and confident and as sexy as the soap-opera stars and sultry singers whose images still haunt our collective memories and dreams. 

This week's visual treats (on the theme of haute couture inspired by flora) is dedicated to the memory of my cousin Alicia Alpuche.


PS:  Thanks for reading the blog and for being a design-obsessed peep.  Enjoy a wonderful weekend and keep believing and experiencing your own inner beauty.