364 days in rags, 1 day princess
Rosetta is one of the Spanish costureras(seamstress) I work with to execute one of my prototypes.
She is specialized in brides wear, like almost all the seamstress now I have tried to talk with, who share two things in common: their price is unreasonably high, and they are much more familiar with synthetic fabrics like satin and lace made of polyester, and all other bridal fabric. So when I showed Rosetta my design, she suggested raso(satin) in 5 seconds, and told me she has just the right Raso for that, in color negro (black), with right peso(weight).
Then she uttered a price tag even higher than all the other costureras I have met, much higher. I almost wanted to walk away at that moment.
But I did not.
First of all, she was recommended, and highly recommended by the tailor who has made a shirt for one of my client’s boyfriend. I do not know much about menswear, but I think the shirt was well made. In my theory, his recommendation should match his craftsmanship.
Secondly, her showroom is the biggest and the most elegant I had ever seen until then, which to me means she has enough clients and she must be real good. Unlike Americans, I found Spanish people in general are practical minded, they will not spend lots of money just to impress others if they are hungry.
Rosetta’s showroom is hidden in a century old building in the city center with a heavy chestnut colored wooden door, and the moment you walk in, you feel like a princess already: the plush scarlet velvet curtains on the very tall and slim windows, the pale yellow damask covered rococo style arm chairs, a high table with fresh white lilies and yellow roses, the huge rectangular wooden coffee table piled with catalogs and magazines of luxury brides wear and a big glass bowl of tiny wrapped Lindt chocolates, and then you have to walk on the thick patterned carpet for at least 20 seconds to the other section of the showroom: a very large rectangular white wooden table in the middle, racks of wedding dresses in different styles, colors and fabrics, and unseen from the entrance, a huge mirror occupies half of one wall.
Although I have no interest in brides wear, I browsed around, checking the craftsmanship, wanting to find that delicate sense of consideration from seamstress for a day so many women have starry eyes on.
I did not see any atelier. When I was browsing, another young woman sometimes wafted in and out from a door just beside the mirror, taking in or bringing out a white dress wrapped in plastic covers, and whispering something into Rosetta’s ears. So the atelier must be behind that door.
Rosetta certainly is very good with presence, nobody needs to see the scissors and measure tapes and messy fabrics if it is not necessary.
I decided to give it a try with her, but only with my own fabrics and trims. After a very big frown on her forehead appeared and then disappeared, she agreed reluctantly.
When she asked about linings,
-no, no quiero forros, i told her.
Now she looked at me in such shock i felt as if I just told her I was going to make the dress in an all transparent material, and the purpose of making it was just for jumping into a swimming pool.
But I do not care. By now I have been quite used to similar reactions from them. In fact, I found these Spanish seamstresses rather a snobbish group, they have a certain way of thinking and doing things which they have been thinking and doing for years or even decades, which they believe is absolutely correct and should never be changed.
I tried to negotiate the price with her: my design is not for wedding, i do not need any complicated handiwork like embroidery or beading etc, I am not using any of her materials and no lining means even less work for her. She did not bulge much, and I gave up.
Perhaps I was too desperate. The other costurera I wanted to work on this dress had been ill, the Spanish way, which means I have no idea when she will get well enough to work again, and it has been more than six months after I handed her all the fabrics and trims! Every time when I just think about all these wasted time under the glorious Spanish sun, I have a mini heart attach.
I confirmed with her the fabrics I will need for the dress. 2.8 meters, she said, a little bit more than the sick costurera, i automatically noticed.
Although it is very easy for me to visualize a dress, any dress in the smallest detail, from collar to the length of hem, the size and shape of pockets, the mathematical part of it is always quite mysterious to me, and partly because of this, I highly respected all of these seamstresses, I think they deserve more to be called artists than us designers. They can live without us, we can not live without them.
The business part being done with, I felt like joking or at least saying something to lighten the somewhat thick air. So I brought my usual confusion to her: I do not understand why so many women spend so much money, energy and effort on a dress they only wear one day in their life time, and then put themselves in jeans and t-shirts and sneakers all year round, like a eternal self condemned Cinderella.
Rosetta looked at me through her black rimmed glasses, for 5 seconds, then she broke into a smile, the first I saw that day:
-if not, what will we do?
I was a little bit surprised that this habitual question of mine ended with her philosophic rhetoric.
Most of the other costureras actually agreed with me: they do not understand either.
But perhaps that is why Rosetta is much more successful than all the others I have met,even under this thick fog of national crisis. She understands where she is supposed to be, whether it makes sense or not.
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