“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”
Fresh of the proverbial boat from Ghana, I arrived at Emory University in 2004. As freshmen, we were required to take a freshman seminar which was selected for us based on the 3 top choices we indicated. I was put into the Creativity and Collaboration seminar, under the Dance discipline with the goal being immersing us into a pool of other students or creative inclination, whose artistic modality varied from theatre to music to visual arts, in order that we experience and understand the collaborative copulation that results in the conception and birth of art. Creating and collaborating has since become intertwined in my DNA.
And so, it is always a joy to collaborate with designers of the sartorial sort. When my cousin announced that she would be getting married in September of 2012, I began to search for dresses in the colour scheme she had chosen for her friends and family– greys, nudes, apricots and such– but to no avail. Notorious for having a very specific idea in my head of what I want but always on a limited budget, that usually means my heart’s desire doesn’t exist. I look then to Mina Evans, a designer with whom I went to high school, to begin the process on collaborating on a custom made piece. When I was last in Ghana, she made a me a lovely puce-coloured piece for the this very same cousin’s tradition marriage ceremony. Since I would not be home before the wedding, our collaborative process involved, as it often does, a barrage of emails from me to her with badly drawn sketches of the fantastic fantasmas in my head. Mina then patiently waded through my messages and brought me down to earth as to what is feasible, accompanied by beautiful sketches of her own. After sending photos upon photos of fabric, we settled on a grey and plum cross-woven raw silk that was just thick enough for the structure we desired and fit right into the bride’s chosen scheme. There are always hiccups and there were: whether it is was a misfitting bust– the distance did not allow for fittings– or me misunderstanding one of her ideas or the dress being lost along with a friend’s luggage by United until just days before the wedding: the creative process imparts the ability and necessity for clear communication, patience, compromise and adaptability, for a marriage of minds is occuring.
When I finally received the dress, it was somehow too short, most probably because I sent Mina erroneous measurments. There was no way it was going back to Ghana for alterations especially that adding length is often impossible while mainting the integrity of the style unless there is abundant allowance in the hemline. Here again was an opportunity to be creative; to spin the unfortunate shortcoming into something new. I took the dress to my alterations tailor here in Atlanta, Tai, and we decided to cut the front into a curve to correct for the missing length. I was more pleased with the outcome than my original idea!
I also had the opportunity to collaborate with a darling and extremely talented milliner, Corina Myla Haywood, who I discovered on Esty. I am the sort who admires millinery from afar: swooning over the cranial adornments in editorials and of royalty, I’ve never worn much more than my beloved vintage boater on my head. But I wanted to be different this time. When I saw the beautiful work Corina was doing, I messaged her with an image of Audrey Hepburn in a fascinator I have long been obsessed with. Corina’s response convinced me working with her would be an edifying experience: she emailed me back with ebullience that burst off the screen, loving the image as much as I did and excited to draw inspiration from it to breathe out her own creation. I was so pleased with the unique piece she created, especially when I found that coincidentally, her petal-shaped creation was redolent of the curved hemline Tai and I had carved out to rescue the dress.
It feels so right to not only support artists, but be a part of the process; of their process, in the manner that collaborating with these two women afforded me. As Oscar Wilde would have it, “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art”. Certainly, wearing a work of art is part of the process of being a work of art.
In a similar vein, marriage too affords this opportunity of artistic transformation. In the words of the Bishop of London:
Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom
This I wish for the beautiful couple. It was a moving experience to see them begin their journey together in little church in Pully, Switzerland on a rainy afternoon, the glorious vistas of Vaud as their witness. And what fun we had in Montreux at the reception, held in the Eden Palace’s romantic Belle Epoque style ballroom! Thank you, Mina and Corina, for robing me. But mostly, thank you, V&M , for allowing me to be a part of your beautiful beginning.
What I Wore: Mina Evans custom-made dress; Corina Haywood Modern Millinery custom-made fascinator; Christian Louboutin Lady Peep Toe in nude; Diane von Furstenburg clutch, Oscar de la Renta cuff; Swarovksi earrings (White blazer by Club Monaco)