“What a caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” ~ Richard Bach
I love the process of transformation. I’ve been consumed by it over the past decade ~ both academically and through the work I do, the things I make. From taking raw materials like fabric and sculpting them into gowns, to raw ingredients that become the centerpiece around which people come together at my salon dinners ~ it’s this becoming that seduces me. It’s about becoming who you are and who you want to be ~ the dynamic and ultimate balance between the two. To be both fully present but also moving forward gracefully, is the day to day dilemma when watching a child become herself, reflecting on your own past and how you got to NOW. A grad school professor at CAL explained his low grade after my first semester in the anthropology department, saying I had become “complacent.” I looked up that word over and over again through the years, to actively become non-complacent with myself, always passionate about learning, seeing new perspectives, reflecting on the choices I’ve made, the person I’ve become. Below is a visual diary and collage of one of my favorite collections we created, inspired by George Cukor’s 1964 MY FAIR LADY, with Audrey Hepburn (who has the same birthday as Royal) and Rex Harrison. The film was nominated for 12 Oscars, winning 8, and still to this day is one of those beautiful screen experiences to watch by myself (as I did last night on Bastille Day), and even more poignantly with my daughter over the years. Watching Royal become herself made me want to re-think this collection that was a collaboration of minds ~ from my assistant designer at the time Katherine Summer O’Neal, assistants Racheal Matthews, Ashley McKinley Karen Lewis, and jeweler Noel Castellanos to my daughter Royal… Here are some visual and textual thoughts reflecting on the collection…
Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through.
Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.
This is a kind of death.
~ Anais Nin
Top Collage/me through the years. Royal, above, left (photo: Jock McDonald) ~ at one year old. Center ~ 5 years old. Right ~ 11 years old.
Do you remember the first time you saw My Fair Lady? I can’t, but I still feel the same emotional me when I watch Eliza sing “I Could Have Danced All Night” and most recently sat in awe watching my daughter perform “Cry Me a River” at the California Jazz Conservatory… What I also remember is the many times I have seen it over the past decade with Royal, and how at each viewing, we are in different places in our lives ~ as mother, as daughter, and the relationship we have between us. From the very first time, when I was working on the collection way back in 2006 (when Royal was 3), to the most recent, when Royal was well on her way “to becoming herself” ~ the transformation that takes place in that film not only reminds me of my very own metamorphosis through the years, becoming cultured through education, travel and the people we meet along the way. But what I so love about this film is the possibility it shows ~ how anyone can transform themselves through what and how we say, wear and do…. what this brings to light, especially in raising a daughter and seeing her bloom, is how we interact with the world ~ through the way we express ourself through voice, style and manner ~ gracefully. Designer Cecil Beaton took George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play Pygmalion, which was also a 1956 Broadway hit starring Julie Andrews as Eliza, and eloquently translated a caterpillar into a butterfly through Eliza’s various voices ~ from her accent and mannerisms to her style through her stunning outfits and gowns, to become my favorite Cinderella story and the “perfect musical”…
~~~~~ CECIL BEATON’S VISION ~ from drawing to reality ~~~~~
“Clothes, as they say, make the man,’ she admitted. ’But they certainly have, with me, given me the confidence I often needed.’ In My Fair Lady, Audrey described the ‘absolutely divine dress’ that Cecil Beaton designed for the transformed cockney flower girl to wear at the ball. ’All I had to do was walk down the stairs. The dress is what made me do it.’ (taken from the book Audrey Style, via Rare Audrey Hepburn blog)
~~~~~~~ cari borja/clothesmaker ~ from runway to editorial ~~~~~~~
Editorial Photo above ~ Claudia Goetzlemann, shot on location at the Djerassi Ranch.
~~~~~ ASCOT as FINALE ~~~~~
Above ~ Images from San Francisco Fashion Week 2006, photographer: Arun Nevadar.
With models Ellen Fucanan Weeda, Leah Wade, Shawna Bailey and others (to be figured out).
~~~~~ Re-contextualized ~~~~~
Above ~ Royal, playing dress-up. Maria Ralph, dancing in the skirt-become-gown at the SF Ballet Gala 2013.
“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” ~ Professor Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady
Above ~ photos: Kelly Puleio, Suits by Jake Wall of Artful Gentleman. Hair ~ Rebecca Beardsley. Make-up ~ Casandra Salazar. Models ~ Helena Martin, Mellissa Gray, Mitch Colleran, Conrad Sherby, Cory Schisler, Kimberly Rosselle, Beanie and Robery Sidney Mull.
More editorial images by photographers Claudia Goetzelmann and Kelly Puleio coming soon…
“It was always the becoming that he dreamed of, never the being.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald