Clothes and cameras - both can be used either to conceal or reveal …
When London Fashion Week started recently, most fashion enthusiasts and bloggers were either heading on down to Somerset House, or maybe tuning in to Style.com to see coverage of the latest shows. However, I was doing neither of these things - instead I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, ready to have yet another x-ray. Having said that, LFW was still playing on my mind - I was perched there in my red silk vintage gentlemen's dressing gown (and yes, with matching lipstick!) over the rather nasty, and much less stylish blue hospital robe. The reason for this visit to an Orthopedic hospital? Scoliosis.
Right at the end of last year, I discovered that I have a medical condition that affects my spine, called scoliosis. Put very simply, it means my spine is twisted, for no other reason than ‘it happens’ during growth spurts, when one side of the spine grows faster than the other. Instead of looking like an exclamation mark, my vertebrae now form a lopsided question mark. Having been diagnosed, I spent the first half of the year getting to grips with accepting that these unexpected, rather different curves and shifted-sideways shapes of my body were the new me that I’d be inhabiting for the rest of my life. I was pretty much told by that first consultant that I’d just have to get used to it. Mostly, I didn’t really notice, and given that I’ve never been one for clingy, scanty or revealing clothes, neither did anyone else. I was also able to control my increasing back pain using the Alexander Technique and Cranial Osteopathy and to conceal the more obvious mis-shapes with careful clothing, wide belts, my long hair and good camera angles. But, like Jack’s beanstalk, I continued to grow… and, though I was ignoring the signs, by the end of the summer, we began to suspect that the curvature had worsened significantly. It had - and when a spine twists further, it forces ribs and shoulder blades into ever more buckled distortion and begins to squeeze rather important bits of insides.
And I’m still growing, so if not operated on, my spinal curve will continue, as it has done, to grow ever more pronounced and my ribs, hips and shoulders will rotate, contort and compress even further. Being told I needed imminent spinal surgery to straighten, fuse and pin my spine was a shock that took some time to sink in. And then I was given a date for the operation. It is scheduled for 3 days time, on Weds 20th October - providing that nothing happens to postpone it
However, I've used this imminent operation as a reason to finally create an idea that has been lurking at the back of my mind for a while... This is a dress I have designed in homage to Alexander McQueen that I’m calling my ‘scoliodress’. I have used X-rays of my own spine to depict the current line of MY vertebrae, using McQueen’s design concept of a spine print that fits against the spine of the wearer (created a few seasons ago). It’s an ‘inside out’ dress: what’s inside featured on the outside. I made the vertebrae out of raw silk (scraps left over from the making of my mum's wedding dress), and attached them to a little black dress - charity shopped, obviously! The process of turning my problem into something creative has been very cathartic. I also did some photographic self portraits of my back, but if I feel ready to share them, that will be after the operation.
This is my backbone, my spine externally represented and revealed.
And to just follow the rest of the normal blog format - The shoes are my newest acquisition, bought with my Next voucher. This is the last time I'll be able to wear heels in a while, so I'm enjoying them while I can! The vintage pearls were family inherited, and so is the little pearl clutch. My hair is a new variation on the 'up-do', now having become a fully functional topknot.
My dad took the photos up in the hills, and we tried to contrast the shape of the dress with stright things (such as the road and horizon) as well as the twisted elements of nature.
Sooo, this will be my last post for a while. I’m told that if the surgery is straightforward and there are no complications, recovery is in the region of 6-8 weeks in the first instance. I’ve been stockpiling outfit shoots and other photographic projects of my own, so once I’m able to sit up and use my laptop again (or even if I have to recline in a melodramatic manner on a chaise longue and dictate to a willing helper) I’ll be back to blogging. One of my biggest concerns is actually the length of time it will be before I can use my camera again! I think it should be permanently glued to my side. But it’s all one step at a time.
One thing I’ve really begun noticing and being fascinated by are twists and turns and sinuous crookedness in nature - especially trees. I love the way that branches contort and wrap round and bend to the force of the wind. Trees have a natural twisted beauty. So do the curves and coils of shells. My back is just another example of one of nature's anomolies.
So, if I have seemed a little unresponsive of late in replying to comments and if my rate of posting has slowed recently, this is the reason why.
P.S. I’ve asked my mum to put up a quick post on my blog a few days after the operation, just to indicate how things have gone
I also recently did an interview on the website LadyM presents here: http://www.ladympresents.co.uk/clothes-cameras-coffee-interview-with-a-fashion-blogger/
I enjoyed answering the thoughtful questions she asked, and love the way she presented it!