It arrived in an elegant brown paper package with no return address.
Question marks dotting my brain,
I opened it.
Luca came running in from the kitchen.
Piero heard me out by the pool and wondered what the wifey had gotten herself into this time.
The card inside revealed it was from dear Maryam of My Marrakesh.
My heart was racing.
I knew this dress.
It had been haunting my dreams for months,
In Maryam's words...
"Simply the most beautiful dresses I have ever owned.
Between 75-80 years old.
Every stitch made by a person with a needle and a needle alone.
Yemeni haute couture.
I have three, all purchased from the same dealer.
There were no others to be found.
Each different - each undoubtedly the only one exactly of its kind."
Below, you can see two of the dresses from Maryam's collection hanging in her home in Morocco.
Here she is wearing one of them.
I'll wait while you catch your breath.
(Photo courtesy of Maryam)
(I think even Anna Wintour would tremble upon seeing that photo, don't you? André Leon Talley would have to grab her before she collapsed in a dead faint.)
Its spirit reminded me of another special dress, one that exists only on faded celluloid, worn by celebrated author and romantic world traveller Lesley Blanch (1904-2007). These stills of her dancing on an Egyptian beach in the 1970's are embedded in my synapses.
(Photo via www.lesleyblanch.com)
Maryam photographed one of the dresses hanging from a star.
The one she sent me looks to be identical, don't you think?(Dress in my dining room)
I held it carefully in my arms and tiptoed upstairs with it.
Would it fit?
I gently slipped it on.
Like a glove.
Immediately, I felt connected to 19th century Victorian adventuresses, to Yemeni tribeswomen, to fearless females from distant eras.
I was encased by delicate threads and stitches and patterns.
I was tattooed in textile.
What I love most about it is that it reveals its age.
Yes, there are frayed ends.
And slight discolorations.
(Just like most of us, right?)
I revel in these imperfections.
(As we all should in ours.)
It is a survivor.
It has a (take your pick): delicate strength/rebellious fragility/unshakeable daintiness that is unweakened by the passage of time.
Aside from carefully mending one or two loose seams,
I will wear it just as is.