The Frock That Thought it Was a Woman

By Bridie Canning

It has got to be perfect. An exclusive. A self coloured material.’ The
Designer stood looking at us as we lay on the table. ‘We have got to
make our name this season with a new emphasis on simplicity.
The Cutter, excited at the prospect of change, asked, ‘What about a
The Designer interrupted reaching for me. ‘Red Velvet, it’s magic.’
Expensive but feminine.’ shouts woman.
I laughed as they ran their fingers through my folds and admired my colour and how
well the light reflected off me. I laughed even more as they cut me to suit their pattern.
They knew I was a woman. I shouted, ‘I’m a woman. A magic Red Velvet woman.’
The knife cut deep, but I was taking shape. Even the pricking of the tacking needle gave
me pleasure. Nobody would reject a Red Velvet woman. The old Black Velvet thread,
that flew about the workroom when the door opened, told me of the resentment it felt of
its bewitching power when as a fine thread I said.
‘I would love to have your magic.’
‘You shall have it. I’m tired of being the little black velvet. I’m weary of being used in
seduction and erotica. Anyway, they say that brown is the new black. I’ve had enough of
it. You take it.’ Black Velvet rolled up into a ball in a sulk, while I absorbed all the power
through the length of my bale.
Now, I was cut and taking shape on a machine that sizzled through my every curve. The
Cutter and Designer watched in fascination as the machinist lovingly turned and formed
me ready to be placed on the wooden manikin that displayed my beauty. I would show
them that I was a woman. I had life in me. Black Velvet blew into a corner of the room
as the resident model swept into the workroom saying, ‘Darlings. It’s magic. When can
I try it on?
I thought, ‘I do not like you. You are too broad across the bottom. Say it.’
The Designer and Cutter looked embarrassed. ‘Sorry. It seemed to take on a life of its
own. Besides you would need to lose bit of weight across the bottom.’
The model flounced out in rage, screaming ‘How dare you. My trainer says I’m a perfect
shape and weight.’ The room shook as the door slammed.
The Designer looked at the Cutter saying, ‘That came out all wrong. Our model is perfect.
I don’t know what came over me.’
The Black Velvet flew out of the corner as the door slammed and whispered. ‘That’s
mild compared to what I heard that one say, in the fitting room, as the denims were torn
off the trainer and dropped on the ground. I can’t tell you what was said. I am too polite.
But before I go, get them to fit you up with a bit of sparkle on the bosom. It’s top fashion
this season.’
I shuddered at the thought. The wooden manikin was cold and inflexible. I longed for
movement and could hear the Designer and Cutter rummaging through the accessory
drawers. They were too far away to hear what they were saying. I shouted, above the
sizzle of the machines, not yet sure if the magic was working. ‘I do not want sparkle.
None of that cheap rubbish, it’s either diamonds or a corsage.’
As they shook their heads over the drawers I heard the Designer say, ‘Diamonds would
make it too expensive. Try a corsage. Nothing elaborate, just a touch.’
The Cutter nodded assent, ‘Fine with me. May I try Diamanté first to see the effect?
You’re the designer.’
No matter where they placed the sparkle I kept shouting, ‘No sparkle on me. I’m not a
Christmas tree. I want gold or a glorious corsage.’
The Designer left my side to answer the phone and sounded more excited as the conversation
went on. I was more concerned with the fumbling of the Cutter whose hand
was on my waist desperately trying to fix a Diamanté stone on my neckline.
The Designer put down the phone saying, ‘See you in a few minutes. Bye.’
‘Leave the Diamanté now. I have a buyer, who is going to a Charity Ball, coming up to
have a look. Get one of the finishers to run the steam iron over the hem. I know – it cries
gold chains or maybe silver.’
My sigh of relief nearly caused an accident as the steam warmed up the cold inflexible
mannequin and fluffed up the pile that had been flattened by the manhandling of the
I waited breathlessly for the buyer and enjoyed the gold chain on my waist. The
Designer voiced my thoughts in three words, ‘Perfection; utter simplicity.’
Yet, as the prospective buyer came in the door I repeated the words. Such perfection I
had only seen in the magazines that were scattered round the workroom.
‘You’re mine,’I flattered as the tall lithe figure approached. ‘Who sculptured you?
Michael Angelo?’
A broad smile answered. There was no need for words. The buyer looked at me from
all angles. I shimmered as her ring caught on one of the threads that the finisher had
missed. We were united until the Cutter released us. Then the Designer folded me into
the arms of the Sculpted one and I was carried into the fitting room where we became
Humming ‘Material Girl’ she gently rearranged my folds. Enthralled, I watched as she
reached for the corsage that I desired.
It was perfect.

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