Sunday, July 31, 2005

Donna Who?

Yesterday morning, my hostess, Pam, presented me with a beautiful silk scarf in honor of Ainadamar’s opening night. It is printed, in beautiful pinks, greys, and maroons, with the ceiling of the Met Opera House, where she worked for 20 years. An opening night gift to her from the director she had been assisting, she wanted to pass it on to me. “As a reminder of where you’re headed,” she said. I was so touched, I thought about running upstairs and changing my outfit! Little did I know that she would present me with an even greater gift later that day.

She had read my blog the day before and saw the Donna Karan couture blouse, which reminded her of a similar blouse that she made when she worked for a designer in New York in the 70’s. The two-person design team, Amott & Yates, made lots of “one-of-a-kind” pieces for celebrities, including a Grammy Dress for Aretha Franklin, caftans for Lanie Kazan, dance costumes for Twyla Tharp, and a silk crepe hand-painted blouse for Julie Christie. In her words, Pam “was the fabric painter on the silk. It was done with leather dyes and a steaming process. As a thank you to me, I was offered the pattern and extra fabric to make a duplicate for myself.” Forty hours of hand- and machine-sewing later, she had the second of two Amott & Yates silk blouses in the world.
Over the next ten years or so, she wore the blouse to many opening nights at the Met. (She freelanced with Amott & Yates and in other design jobs – not least among them designing and sewing clothes for Muppet and Sesame Street with Henson Associates! – while establishing her opera career.) She stopped wearing it about twenty years ago, but knew that it was a piece to hold on to, so she “archived” it in her closet. But, as “everything old is new again” in fashion, Pam realized that it was time for it come out and have a new life. And the stage was perfectly set for its comeback: a young opera singer living in her home for the summer with a passion (but not the pocketbook!) for high fashion and an opening night event to attend that very evening! My Fairy Godmother, perhaps?

When I got home from my long day with two hours to recharge and head back for Ainadamar, Pam presented me with this work of art and told me the story behind it. At first, I couldn’t believe that she was actually giving it to me! It seemed too special, too fabulous! But once I got my head around it, I was thrilled!

In short order, I had formed three possible outfits around this gorgeous piece. My first try was to pair it with jeans, a soft pink silk camisole, and tan sandals. (Cowboy boots would have been perfect, but I haven’t made that fashion investment yet. It’s on my To Do List while I’m in Santa Fe, though.) The jeans weren’t quite right, though; they needed to be tighter and lower slung in order to allow the blouse to hang properly. Next I paired it with orange linen pants and the same camisole and sandals. Again, close but not quite right. The bright pants drew attention away from the blouse. Pam suggested that this outfit would be perfect with a chunky coral-colored necklace or a brighter camisole, something to bring the eye back up to the blouse. Another item to add to the fashion wishlist!

I finally settled on black slacks, the pink camisole, and black heels. In this arrangement, the blouse was the centerpiece, as it deserves to be. With my hair up, long multi-strand gold earrings with pink beads added the finishing touch. It was an outfit worthy of any opening night, and I felt absolutely special to be wearing it. I received compliments all night long and delighted in sharing the story over and over. . I am sorry that I didn’t get a picture of me in it, but I hope you can get an idea of its beauty from these pictures.

I will treasure this exquisite blouse, my first real piece of haute couture, for years to come. A one-of-a-kind gift from a one-of-a-kind woman. Thank you, Pam.


Anonymous said...

Wow--there's almost nothing at all to say about such a perfect, thoughtful, meaningful gift. Exquisite!

xox, ct

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness! That's an incredible story. Brava to you, and I better see some pics.

MCR said...

Wow, Thank you for such a nice write up in your Blog. I am glad it touched you so much, you deserve it and will certainly receive much more in your career along the way. It filled me with joy to be able to give it to you, because I knew you would appreciate the design and the hours that went in to creating it. Pam

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous and thoughtful gift.

Anonymous said...


there's no comparison with the Donna Karan, this is a work of art


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