It all began several years ago with a piece from Selvedge Magazine about the sewing life of Fanny Brawne as depicted in Jane Campion's "Bright Star", a haunting film about Fanny and the poet John Keats' doomed love affair. I was delighted to find this article highlighting the remarkable ingenuity of an early 19th century home-grown seamstress and fashionista. I knew that I would want to revisit Fanny over and over when searching for creative inspiration in the 21st century.
Later I attended a dear exhibit of little girls' samplers from 1728 to 1835. These small works of art with distinct regional styles cast a spell on me - more so upon learning that the young creators often led arduous lives. But some of the needlework motifs depict true joyfulness through Biblical verses and poetry. The small keepsake pamphlet reminds me how much I want to learn more about this touching art form.
Also included in Pursuits is an article about the beautiful and tragic Empress Sisi who lived a monarch's life filled with transcendent fashion. Although her ending was never going to be ordinary, I find her sadly compelling like a dazzling butterfly destined to die too soon. I'm certain there are lessons from her life and one day I hope to pursue her further to see if she earned her prominent spot in my file afterall.
Two articles came to me synchronistically in a rare book dealer's catalog. One, on collecting vintage fashion plates for the very latest in haute home décor and then two, on the delicate art of fashion illustration. Since I dream of owning a lovely piece of feminine art for above my bed and knowing I could never afford the real deal, the articles have spawned a quest to find a pretty but affordable fashion sketch in just the right colors. According to the authors however, I'd better hurry - both genres are fast becoming the collectibles-du-jour. No matter, the articles have captured my imagination for color and style and have found me spending many happy hours at the local junk shops.
I sure wish I was able to visit Winterthur, Henry Francis du Pont's estate in Delaware for "Uncommon Threads" the travelling costume exhibit of Downton Abbey's most beautiful dresses. I see it also included other noteworthy garments such as Carson's tailcoat. But for my money, the focus would have been on Lady Mary's tiered garnet gown which she wore on the winter evening Matthew proposed on bended knee outdoors in the snow. I will smile wistfully whenever my hand lights upon this enchanting flyer.
Pursuits are vital because they give us something to think about beyond ourselves. They keep us engaged in the world and give us hope. They teach us there are other ways to live...they inspire us. Pursuits are our future.