This dramatic coat explores how memories of a loved one influence whom we become over time. Though that's asking a lot of a mere coat, something about this bold, colorful and pretty tattered quilt challenged HC's designer to let this quilt speak the volumes it carried.
The New York Beauty quilt is likely from the late 1800s, judging from the relic cotton seeds embedded in its batting. It has been loved thoroughly, as evidenced by the faded color, thinned fabric and torn borders. If it is to survive, like our memories of lost loved ones, it needed to be handled compassionately and protected from harsh treatment.
The design for this coat emerged from a meditation about my grandmother, who died 42 years ago. Her presence evolved from the soft warm fleshiness, to a still-vivid memory of a woman I could no longer touch, to a somewhat dimmed memory that focused on who she had been to me and increasingly less on who she was for herself. Over time, her influence became more inseparable from who I am, and now, specific memories of her come back only in small faded shards, separated from the whole.
Though this coat looks contemporary in its asymmetry, color and bold pattern, like me, it emerges out of a strong substrate that grows less obvious over time, but is, nonetheless, essential to who I am.
The compassionate care and protection of this quilt is accomplished by encasing the damaged, fragile areas in silk organza (white and red metallic), which leaves them relatively visible, and in wool gauze (off-white), which obscures the way fog does. The large asymmetrical collar may be buttoned closed, exposing a calico under collar of red, beige and cream. Antique buttons enlarge the statement.