How I Found Myself in the World of Fashion
I was the weird kid in high school. I preferred my own company over the gossiping girls, so I spent my lunch time in the ceramics room. I loved getting muddy and turning up to the afternoon classes covered in clay with a big grin on my face. I also played with paint and charcoal - and my collages were popular among teachers who would steal them for their own homes.
Creative times = Best times.
I always thought that I'd go straight to art school, stay barefooted and free-spirited, and never grow up.
At least that was the plan - until my beloved art teacher got cancer and didn't come back after the summer of my Year 11. The new art teacher for Year 12, Mrs Ringer, was transferred from another school far away. She ran the Textiles department at her old school.
When she saw me screen printing the Esprit logo onto my home-made tops (because counterfeit wasn't even a concept in a cash-strapped teen's mind) she knew I had potential in textiles.
By this time I had started making myself stuff to wear. Nothing done properly, of course. A bit of hack here, and a bit of stitch there. All I wanted was something resembling Dolly teen fashion of the 80s - and I succeed most of time - probably because the other kids didn't notice, and I certainly didn't pay much attention if they did.
Mrs Ringer got me started on silk paining. I took to it right away and now turned up to my afternoon classes covered in dye, wearing an even-bigger grin. I soon started doing demonstration around the school and got a few teachers silk paining too.
Still having art school in mind, though, I attended life drawing at night and went to a ballet classes after school to draw dancers. My folio by now weighted a ton, so Mrs Ringer gave me lifts home whenever Mum failed to show up.
Life was messy and fabulous.
I even found time to get sewing seriously.
One day, Mum's friend, Aunty Martina, the scary superintendent from Saturday school came to visit. I was happily sewing away, and showed her what I'd just made.
"Oh, you are doing it all wrong!" She said, "you will never amount to anything the way you're going. No point in applying for Fashion Design - there's no way they'd pick you."
She was referring to RMIT Fashion Design. It was one of the toughest fashion design courses to get in, and everyone knew that they only wanted the best talent.
That night, I changed my uni preferences.
Prior to this, I had all the fine art schools as my first preferences. Embarking on a career as a fashion designer may have been a long-held dream for many - but it just sounded so.... proper. It wasn't exactly something I had in mind.
Now RMIT Fashion would be on top of my list. Come hell or high water - I will show them, damn it!
Mrs Ringer was over the moon. She always knew that I'd come around to the textiles world. Together we worked harder to build a stronger textiles folio. Madness. Fun times. And by the end of the year my work got picked to travel around town halls, showcasing VCE new talents.
Did I get in? Yes, I did.
And I also got accepted to all of the fine art schools. Now I had options - but I ended up going to RMIT Fashion because (1) it was so hard to get in and I did (2) it was the only choice that resembled any sort of career path out of all my other choices.
And it turned out to be a wonderful experience. Except the career part. We all graduated into that early 90s recession we had to have. No one was hiring graduates. But let's save that story for another day.
Did I regret it? Not for a second.
Fast forward some years - my career ended, and my life began. Here I am today, with you.
Sometimes life takes us to surprising places. And our reaction to an unwitting comment may also lead to a change in our path. Whatever the case, I'm equally grateful.
I don't know how my life would turn out, had I gone down the fine art path - though I do know that my spirit is just as free today - and I still insist on going barefooted when I make things.
Wherever you are in your journey, right now, immerse in it fully - give it your best - and enjoy it with your whole heart. Even if it seems a little odd to the rest of the world.
Because the rest of the world doesn't live YOUR life anyway. So go ahead and love the journey for what it is. And be prepared to find your true self in the process.
It is worth it.
Until next time, have fun creating!