The young woman, most likely in her twenties, ushered the last customers out of her popular boutique and closed the glass doors behind them. She tossed empty leftover hangers to the side of the boutique and sat down on a cushioned wooden chair. With expert hands, she grabbed tremendously sharp scissors and hacked away at large pieces of fabric in front of her. With a twist of her hands and a neat flourish, she folded the newly shaped pieces of fabric and shoved it under a sewing machine with such intensity that the table shook underneath her. She started to ease the fabric under a sewing machine, letting it dutifully turn two pieces of fabric into one.
After an hour of hunching over her table and sewing machine, she slipped her finished garment, a draped satin dress, over a mannequin in the front of the boutique. Seemingly satisfied with her work, she dimmed the lights and slipped on a long jacket, one of her own, and left the boutique without acknowleding any citizens in the street. A few of the friendly "regulars" who frequented the street waved in silence since, for all they knew, she had no identity. As the woman walked out under a streetlight and buttoned her jacket, the outline of her body started to blend into the nighttime air, until she disappeared completely.
The next day at exactly 6:00 am, the young woman returned to the store and dutifully sat down by her sewing machine. Right when she sat down, she jumped up, and as if she just remembered, she took off her jacket and put it on a hook on the wall. While it was on the hook, the end and sleeves of the jacket occasionally moved, even though there wasn't any wind or movement in the boutique. The sleeves of the jacket pointed towards the pictures above the woman's work table. These pictures were of previous boutique owners, who each had once been apprentices in the boutique. There were many pictures, of the previous owners when they first became interested in find a job, and afterwards when they passed on their position. The differences in the moody "before and after" pictures were vast. Those who had a confident sm ile seemed blurred into the background in later pictures, and in the background were rows of handmade clothes that surrounded them and made them appear smaller than they already were.
The woman unlocked the front glass door as people began wandering by the window, looking entranced at the displayed clothes. She walked around...tidying up the boutique with a defiant attitude, but it was too late for her, as it was for all the previous owners before. Hurrying to the backroom before the customers came in, she went into the back "lounge" room. She took a sip from a bottle of water, hoping to sooth the constant regrest that nagged her everday. Memories of starting businesses, stress, loss of imagination, and worry raced through her head, but she sipped water, gripped her loose shirt, and sighed when the moment passed. She braced for the next memory.
The silky shirt was smooth to the touch, and the way it made people happier when they wore it was unbelievable. People wore clothes not to just look good, but to help them feel and act better. The teenager, apprenticing in a boutique, thought about all this with wonder, but sitll refused to change her own outlook. She wanted to make clothes, use her imagination. This was a personal hobby for her (sewing, that is) yet the process was fun. The teenaged girl hated for her work to be criticized, and it showed. She was hesitant towards letting anybody see her accomplishments, and was unwilling to even talk to others about her recent creations. When somebody approaches her with innocent questions, wondering how she spends her day "apprenticing", her reaction is always the same. Blush. Close her eyes. Stutter. Run into the back room.
Walking back into the main boutique, shirts fell from the display where they were usually perfectly stacked and balanced. It was as if they were taunting her, forcing her to remember that it was her fault for giving in. If only she had remained confident and if only she had persisted in believing that she could pull off any clothes or business opportunity. If only she had known that if you try very hard to make something happen for yourself and believe that you will, then you will succeed no matter what it is. Then she might not have disappeared.
[pictures from Balmain 2008 Fall RTW]