When asked to proof the pages for this book a few months back I didn’t really understand the concept of the book: was it a book about clothing, fabric, a memoir? Or was it about fashion? When I began reading it I was super surprised at how it captured my heart immediately and not so surprised at how beautifully written it is. I got my advance copy today and I was reminded of how much I enjoyed it. You can get it later this month when it hits the shelves.
For those of you unfamiliar with Lorelei Vashti, she is a writer, columnist and editor. She has a website/blog called ‘Dress, Memory’ www.dressmemory.com where she describes all the dresses and outfits that have made up her life in clothes. It’s not just about dresses and fashion, though – it’s about how we connect memories and feelings and clothing together. That’s why Lorelei says it’s so hard to let go of her wardrobe.
The thing that struck me about the book is it’s honesty and acute observations. Even though it’s Lorelei’s memoir, I found myself immersed in her stories as if they were my own. Actually, it was uncanny how our lives mirrored each other from her theatrical beginnings along a circuitous route to writing. Sometimes Dress, Memory was funny and at times heartbreaking. When you are in your twenties it is hard if you don’t know exactly what it is that you want to do – or you do know, but it doesn’t work out. Sometimes we experiment with what life has to offer out of necessity. You get lost along the way, but you always learn, and there are those amazing experiences and life-long friendships that stay with you forever. Lorelei appears to be a chameleon who has adapted to and embraced every one of these opportunities and moments – friendships that change and bend over time, tangled relationships and also true love, a proper job, travelling – from the crazy heights of NYC to the reflective beauty of India, creativity and getting lost and then found. And she describes them with prose so beautiful and fragile, you just want to go and find her and keep her at your home for a week so she can tell you in person about everything she’s done and still does.
Throughout the book is the wardrobe full of dresses. Lorelei uses the dresses as a metaphor for how she moves through and responds to her life – trying things on, growing into her sisters’ dresses, growing out of her own – and her reflections about the clothes give us insight into how she adapts to her dynamic and passionate twenties. The dresses become characters that hold her life within their stitches and reflect back the joyous and painful memories of the past.
My own twenties was a riot – both exciting, creative, fun and downright depressing, too. Sometimes I don’t even want to think about it because I tend to remember it as a time of angst and like being on the scariest roller coaster ride. I was reminded, though, in Dress, Memory that your twenties is also a time that invites a great deal of love, learning and fierce and passionate abandon that makes you the person you are.
And, Lorelei has so generously offered pics of the dresses mentioned in the book in a special 6-page full cover insert (well done Allen and Unwin) so you can actually see the dresses she writes about. It’s amazing! It’s also designed by the very talented Allison Colpoys, who always rocks a cover.
I highly, highly recommend this one – especially for, but not only for, women. In fact it’s a must-read. I couldn’t stop thinking about it a long time afterwards and I’ll be giving it to my daughter when she is in her twenties. That’s a certain.
*Note – that Dress, Memory will be in bookshops later this month.
Dress, Memory is published by Allen and Unwin and costs $27.99.
For more info about Lorelei Vashti go to www.dressmemory.com
For more info about Allen and Unwin go to www.allenandunwin.com