A Quest for Womanhood and True Beauty
Excerpt from Foreword:
A couple of years ago I started my own blog. My focus was women’s clothing, with a mix of topics like beauty, fashion, femininity, feminine myths, textile history, the fashion industry and cultural development. Apart from my professional perspective as a designer I also shared parts of my own personal journey. Some topics like spirituality, myths and inner journeys, might have seemed far-fetched to many, but on a gut-level I knew they were somehow intricately related to contemporary clothes. There were times when all these threads completely overwhelmed me, since it seemed like a giant mess of loose ends. Using the analogy of threads, I felt that there were knots on some, some were broken, some were just tiny fragments and some didn't seem to fit in at all even though I knew they were there for a reason.
As a kid I used to see a tangled mess of threads as a fun and important challenge. Totally absorbed in the task of sorting it out, I would keep track of how the different threads intertwined and untied knots with never-ending patience. It was such a great feeling to get it sorted out. So, true to my nature, I persisted with my blog. I just focused on one thread at the time and the collection of written material grew. Often, when I looked through my blog posts, I was filled with a sense of anticipation. It was as if each was connected to an immensely dynamic core. Even though they might seem disconnected, I knew that they would (in some way I couldn’t yet grasp) show the way to a new way of relating to and using clothes.
Many years earlier the seed for this book came to me in a very symbolic vision…
I saw a collection of threads… They were feminine threads from different times and cultures. Unique threads that seemed incompatible in their extremes. Beautiful threads and threads I didn’t like so much… flashy, shallow threads and deeply mysterious ones… intimate personal threads and cultural threads… strong threads as well as frail… threads in different colors and textures. There was a deep knowing that despite their apparent differences, they had the potential to create something beautiful if they were connected and interwoven. I was shown another thread of golden color that ran through the cloth that had taken shape out of these unique threads, forming a specific pattern. The vision was clear… the tapestry that emerged would in a symbolic way provide material for new feminine clothes.
At that time in my life I was not yet ready to start writing Feminine Threads. It was too early in my own process and totally beyond my grasp how it could be embodied in clothes. So I put it aside and more or less forgot about it. But in the fall of 2012 I knew I was to put my blog to rest and move on. As I pondered what my next step would be, my Thread Vision came to mind. I saw how the habit of writing blog posts had actually been a way of sorting out the different threads for the book. Amazed, I realized that there were indeed both personal and cultural threads, shallow as well as deep ones and some I liked more than others. I hadn’t consciously planned it that way. I also saw that the posts about my own process had been a way to become more aware of my own personal journey. It was time to begin.
True to feminine awareness there is no single red thread or definite focus in this book. Many layers and dimensions are interwoven to create a whole. Some might focus on the unfolding of my own personal story or the intricate interconnections between mothers and daughters (and granddaughters). For others our common threads of feminine development, clothes and beauty might be the ones that stand out. And there will probably be those for whom the deeper note of an initiatory journey is the most compelling.
Using the metaphor of weaving, my own personal life forms the symbolic warp. It is interwoven with an impersonal weft of cultural, mythic, historic and spiritual perspectives on clothes, beauty and feminine development as well as some transpersonal experiences beyond time and space. With this format I want to illustrate how one individual life journey is woven together with development on a larger scale. I am a child of my time, with experiences from typical time-related themes, like a split family, an absent father, a mother who had to work hard to support us, sexual abuse, eating disorders, depressions and a very confused relationship to clothes and femininity. Tracing the steps of my life will hopefully shine a light on cultural symptoms as well as some of the specific challenges we might encounter on our journey towards true womanhood.
It is my absolute conviction that our deepest inner journeys are collective. Our inner worlds are woven from the myths and dreams we all share. My process is not just my own, but is shared on a deeper level with all women. We might experience it with a slightly different perspective, and with a different intensity, but basically it’s a common process.
In the midst of our present day paradigm shift not much has changed yet in the world of clothes. There is definitely a growing awareness of ecology and fair trade, and many companies are doing great work on those fronts. But what about the design of clothing? Can the 1,7 trillion dollar industry of fashion be truly sustainable if it continues to create clothes that are based on outdated values and ideals? Can we find truer feminine ideals? Do we even need ideals?
There is a perpetual tension between outer form and its content. If the form (or system) becomes too rigid, too set in its patterns, too devoid of life, it has to break down in order to renew itself. This universal truth can be applied to clothing design as well as the entire fashion business, which is built on a system that has little relevance today. Somehow it needs to be imbued with fresh, vital energy.
Through my blog I sorted many threads. My new assignment is to weave them together in this book. To be perfectly honest, part of me is overwhelmed by the task. Who am I to figure out how each thread would fit into the whole? And how can I weave them together in a way that makes sense? Deep down, from the core of my being, something tells me… It will make sense. And it will be beautiful. Out of all the things I have learnt on my journey, the most important is this: No matter what my outer circumstances are, or what my ego thinks about it, the reassurance of this inner voice is the only thing I really can trust.
And with this knowing I start weaving...