06 October 2010


I spent a serendipitous afternoon in the Pleasure Gardens Room at the Museum of London with a friend, a room I'd never seen before, full of mannequins dressed  in wondrous Philip Treacy concoctions and period costume.  It happened that I had been wondering how I might illustrate "night" when I saw this and knew I had found the answer, for this dress is surely the definitive night-dress.  It reminds me of a wonderful section in Eithne Farry's "Yeah, I made it myself"  where she describes her "dreamy skirt wish list".  It includes: a skirt festooned with roses made from ribbons; a skirt made with a heart shaped pocket to keep love letters in; a skirt decorated with a huge beaded cobweb with a spider from the party shop nestling at the glittering centre.  I'm sure Ms Farry would approve of the starry dress.

After we'd had our supper looking out over London Wall, I decided to walk home in the balmy air through the City and Spitalfields and Bethnal Green.  I had my walking boots on and marched purposefully by empty offices, through the crowds hanging outside city pubs and tipsy women weaving their way precariously along the street,  past the old market streets, Milk Street, Ironmonger Lane, Lothbury, on through Brushfield Street,  Fournier Street and Brick Lane, then straight through Bethnal Green until I reached the cooler air in the trees of Mile End Park and home.

There was a touch of Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are along the way.

Some creatures were friendlier than others.

It wasn't all pretty of course, and I did chicken out of ducking down streets I would have felt comfortable in during the day, but less so at night.  I thought about Felix's night walk this summer and how brave she had been.  And what a nightmare skirt might look like.

Which brings me back to Eithne Farry.  I see that yesterday I reached four hundred posts on this blog and a hundred on the East End WI blog, a feat worth commemorating, so I think a wee giveaway is in order - Ms Farry's Lovely Things to Make for Girls of Slender Means.  I so like this book.  It is full of inspiring ideas, fabric and flowers.  I kept it by my bed for a fortnight when it first arrived just to make me smile in my sleep.  To take part in the giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment here by midnight on 16th October describing your dream skirt or nightmare skirt, or both.

Sweet dreams.


Val said...

Thanks for the link to the Wall..it sounds like a fascinating walk. I love the way you can suddenly come across places and buildings that make the past more real. I've walked Chester's walls and used to walk through the Roman Arch to get to college each day in Lincoln and for many years nipped across a lovely straight stretch of Roman road to get to work ..those Romans certainly made an impact :0)

shandy said...

Book looks just up my street,
My dream skirt is in handwoven tweed, in lovely colours, and it makes me look a couple of stone lighter than I am - that would be a dream!

Anonymous said...

Took my two youngest to the Pleasure Garden exhibit earlier this year. They were terrified by it - a combination of the clown/jester figure and the film projections. I was discussing their fear with one of the museum attendants who was slightly alarmed to see two quite big (10 and 8) year old kids clinging to their mum. Best explanation we could come up with was that it was slightly reminiscent of a David Tennant episode of Dr Who.
My dream skirt is an Issey Miyake 132 5. one. You can see it here:


The nightmare, of course, would be how to fold it up again.


Rattling On said...

My dream skirt would be quite long, very full, net underskirts... and worn at a glam cocktail party. That'll be the day!

Liz said...

Lovely post, especially the account of your walk home. My current dream skirt would be the one made from that damn Clothkits pack which is still waiting to be sewn. Then I'd just need my dream body to be able to wear it. Case of dream on, I think.

Stan said...

I don't wear skirts normally, but my nightmare skirt would be made out of the swirly green, orange and brown bedroom curtains my parents inflicted on me as a child in Devizes in the '70s. Terrifying beasts crawled out of the patterns at night-time to torment me.

SueB said...

My nightmare skirt I owned briefly in the '80s. Beautiful, butter soft, black, rubber full riding skirt with tight tight corset lacing at the waist. Sadly long since perished, a combination of clubbing and general bad behaviour. My fantasy skirt has yet to be imagined, but Galliano comes close. My dream skirt I still have, purple moiree taffeta, 3/4 circle from biba. Took weeks of saving from my Saturday job in a bakery when I was 17. Sadly no longer fits, but still in my wardrobe for those proustian moments.

jane said...

My nightmare skirt would be anything that resembled my school kilt. It was a shiny navy blue polyester piece, heavily pleated, falling just below the knee at a point which was surely carefully calculated to ensure it was as unflattering as possible whatever the height of the wearer. The damn thing wasn't even comfortable- it was hot and itchy and the buttons dug in at the waist. Sensible shoes had to be worn with it at all times.

My dream at the moment would be an emerald green silk skirt, with plenty of swish swoosh. Impractical shoes would have to be worn with it at all times.