LaCroix Red Strapless Mini Dress
A few years ago there was a red strapless Christian LaCroix mini-dress I loved as soon as I'd first seen pictures of it. The thing was, it retailed for $4100. I'd kept my eye on it on the one site I saw it selling through online and the lowest I ever saw it get was $1375 on sale. A huge difference in price, surely, but still obviously a lot to spend for a red strapless cocktail dress. Then, over a year later, miracle of miracles I found exactly the same dress for sale on ebay a couple sizes too big for me and missing its belt. I made an offer and crazy enough bought the dress for only $250. Of course, it arrived, lovely as ever, and two sizes to big for me. My thought at the time was that I could wait till I left my mountain town for the summer and get the dress altered once I was in a big city with professional, fancy-dress-trained seamstresses in it. When the dress arrived I took it downtown to show it to a friend of mine I'd told about it. To give a better sense of the dress I tried it on (the thing floated all over me. It was pretty ridiculous.) and while prancing down the hall in my oversized French lusciously silk dress a woman walked out into the hall and started cooing over it. She loved the fabric. It had an iridescent shimmer to it--it was incredible quality she said. Then she started remarking on the design--how from the side the entire thing looked like a huge allusion to a bow, something you can't see in traditional "from the front and from the back" photos. She loved it. I started talking to her more and it turned out standing there in front of me was a professional, fancy-dress-trained seamstress right here in my little mountain "let's wear fleece and baggy pants all the time" town. That's how I met Pam. We were a match made in heaven--we both loved keeping up with fashion week progress online, we both hated fleece unless you're camping, and we both loved to laugh. Pam offered to make the dress actually fit me. Clutching it to my chest so the whole thing wouldn't just slip off, it was that loose, I told her, "look this is a $4100 dress. I didn't pay that much for it but that's how much I'd be losing if the dress got screwed up. It's basically irreplaceable." She looked me straight in the face and started telling me how she'd work on it. Within only a couple of minutes Pam had earned my alterations' trust and I handed the dress over to her the same day it had arrived in the mail, just moments after I'd accidentally met her in a downtown hallway. Over the next couple of weeks Pam altered my red strapless Christian LaCroix missing-the-belt-and-far-too-big-for-me dress so that now I can actually wear it and have it stay on (except for that little problem of my living in a town where everyone relies on fleece and baggy pants for dress-up). It turned out Pam had studied couture sewing techniques with a woman that spends part of her winter in Paris every year working on pattern design. When Pam hit a touchy spot in the LaCroix alteration process she contacted her couture sewing techniques' instructor to ask for advice. It turned out the woman RIGHT THAT VERY MOMENT was having wine and cheese with one of the men of the LaCroix house and so Pam was able to get advice straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. When I went in for a fitting the next day Pam was ecstatic telling me this story. She'd gotten the dress to fit, and I loved it. But even more thrilling than receiving my dress as wearable art was seeing how thrilled Pam turned out to be from the whole experience of getting to work on it, having contact with the LaCroix house itself as a result, and delivering it to me as wearable and so unusual in this little town. From that moment on we were friends. It turned out I'd met Pam in the midst of her considering significant change in her life. The town we lived in had gotten small for her interests and aspirations so she decided to take a huge risk and change her circumstances. She wanted to take her sewing and design skills and bring them to the next level, so to speak. So, she left Flagstaff and started a three-year fashion design program in Los Angeles. I saw her a couple of weeks ago and it's not just her skills that have become more robust and confident. It's also her already charming, soul-filled, and sparkling personality. When I told Pam about a conundrum I'd been in recently she listened to me closely for a few minutes and then looked me straight in the face again, as she had that first day we met. This time though she struck me with a challenge. She started by telling me how she believes I don't see well enough who I am or the effect I have in the world. She spent time describing to me what she sees in me, and then she asked me what it would mean for me to step fully into recognizing my own power and choose to live my life even more completely on my terms. In those moments when Pam was talking (in a way she hadn't the year before when she still lived here) the whole world seemed accessible. She spoke with a strength that delivered believing. Pam chose to change her life in order to pursue what she wants for it. In her speech to me last week she asked me to consider what would happen if I would do the same.
strangely, i just realized, i typed out this whole post with traditional "use capitalization for proper nouns and at the start of sentences" style, unlike the other editions of this series. somehow i think it must be appropriate to my recognition of wonderful pam, so i'm going to leave it.