Thursday, August 5, 2010
Three French Sisters
Once upon a time, there was a lovely shop, in a quaint village, along the coastline of a little resort town, with a funny sounding name, that no one knew how to pronounce. People came from all around to buy unique, quality merchandise from this shop. The shopkeeper gathered products from around the world, or at least from the outlying countryside. Tuesday mornings were especially exciting, because the shopkeeper would return on this day from his buying trip with his latest finds. The village women would drop what they were doing, probably chores, and run to the main road in hopes of catching a glance at the latest fashions, as the shopkeeper drove his wagon back to his store. But the shopkeeper was wise to their ways, and kept a tarp over the new merchandise. The women would have to wait until the shop was opened the next morning, to see what surprises were waiting under the tarp. As the women walked back to their chores, they were all planning how they could get away the next morning, so they could be the first in line, when the shop opened. A few brave souls even wondered if they could bring sleeping bags and lawn chairs and sleep in front of the shop, but they knew that this would not be acceptable. The shopkeeper worked long into the night, arranging all the new styles. There were peasant dresses, sandals and the latest fad, tie-dyed long underwear. But little did the customers know, that there would be a new surprise wanting to greet them the next morning. While on his travel, the shopkeeper come across a straw hut he had never seen before. An old woman was sitting outside the hut making, what looked to be forms of a woman, out of wood and straw. The man jumped down from his wagon and asked the old women why she would be making such a thing. She told him it was all the rage in Paris. The shopkeepers there call them "mannequins". "What are they used for?", the man asked. The woman replied, "The mannequins are dressed and put at the front of the store to show your best and latest merchandise." The shopkeeper was a little skeptical, but he prided himself on being a trendsetter. The thought of one of the new discount stores in the next village over, having mannequins before he did, drove him to make the purchase. So here he was, late at night, dressing these women-like forms. He was quite embarrassed and was thankful nobody was around to see the mannequins in their state of undress. Bright and early the next morning the shopkeeper came downstairs, and as usual, there was a long line of women waiting to enter the store. He could have sworn he saw a few of them flex their fingers while saying, "Open, open, open." He opened the door and quickly stepped aside, so as not to get trampled. But as the women entered the shop, they halted and stared at the three forms that were wearing the most beautiful of dresses. The shopkeeper quickly explained that they were French mannequins, and that there were more dresses in the back. To the shopkeepers amazement, he sold all the new dresses and many pair of tie-dyed underwear that day. People came from near and far to see the "French Sisters" as they were come to be known. Many a husband was hit on the side of the head, right in front of that store, for showing to much interest in the three beautiful sisters. As time went on, the mannequins were copied and put into other shops. Some of the newer versions even had arms added to them, to make them seem more life like. But none could ever compare to the lovely French Sisters.
That was a long time ago. But more recently, three dusty and very faded dressmaker forms were found at a department store sale. Nobody seemed to notice the shabby forms. They were more interested in the more modern manikins, they were no longer called mannequins, but a shorter, less beautiful version of the name. Along came an artist that had been down on her luck. When she gazed over to the unlikely three, something struck a chord in her. Maybe she saw them in their former glory, or maybe she saw their future potential. Whatever the case was, she just couldn't walk away without them.I was that artist and I bought those dress forms over fifteen years ago. I'm sad to say most of that time they were put away in a box. Over the last seven or so years, they have been sitting on a high, out of reach window in my art studio. They were more dusty and faded than ever. Every once in awhile, I would look at them, and think I should do something with them. Well, last Monday was the day, I got them down, washed them off and painted them. With some recently purchased trims, I was able to restore them with a new, modern twist and with some added bling, that really make these little beauties shine. I think the shopkeeper would have to smile and wonder if they were wearing tie-dyed undies.