Apparitions are rare. It has been said that they are sent from above to draw our attention to a ‘Message’. The establishment named Glorious Creations located in Flinders Lane in Melbourne’s garment manufacturing heart appeared to be much like it’s surrounding brick sisters: Up 6 steps from the street, gold nameplate on black wall tiles next to the lift, dim overhead light. The vehicle for transporting the chosen ones was a steel cage with a semi-safe sliding door. I stood shoulder to shoulder with my current squeeze as the lift was very small. Let’s call the squeeze Peter, for that was his name. Once we reached the top floor and the left lurched to a stop, Peter deftly slid open the door and guided me over the threshold and the Apparition appeared before me. Row after row of dresses hung on racks stretching into the distance. This phenomena for which there seemed no natural explanation was for me, the word made flesh. Saint Peter…er I mean Peter, swept his arm over two of the nearest racks saying, ‘Happy Birthday Darling, choose something from these racks and I shall gift it to you to mark this glorious occasion.’ He brought me a chair for I had paled, then went to do fetch his Boss from the office. The Boss, shorter than I had envisioned, grinned and looked me up and down, no doubt assessing my dress size and reinforced Peter’s offer.
The colour used to be called ‘Junior Navy’ a deep blue just short of Indigo. The fabric was crepe with a silky lining. The shift dress had a round neck, 3/4 length sleeves and a hemline skimming the knee. It featured a small, tight frill right down the centre from neck to hemline with a small pearl sewn one to each frill. Rouleau binding finished sleeve and throat topped with a tiny bow and pearl. And the aroma! If you have you ever buried your nose in a handful of Junior Navy crepe you’ll know that I mean, freshly-ironed notes mixed with that of blue dye, reminiscent of crushed blue chalk pastel.
I captured the ecstatic girl that I was on that famous Saturday on the top floor of paradise, using oil paints and religious collage. Finally, the Message. 'Dear child', it might have said, 'You are beautiful and deserve gifts such as this ecstatic garment. Go ye forth and wipe away all self doubt for ever and ever Amen'.