I have been on a color-my-life course for a while now all in a bid to bring vibrancy in my life. One thing that has promised me the joy and vibrancy is clothing. Maybe it is something to do with the retail-therapy, dress-for-success and color that draws me. Psychologist say that people tend to shop the most leading up to big life transitions. I am not quite sure what i am transitioning into, but i feel it will be great. In effect, I have grown attached to the traditional African wear of bright colors, distinctive designs, and hand-made quality giving me something truly extraordinary and rich culturally. Thus I have been up about in search of tailors who can cut and stitch the different fabrics I collect from different parts of Africa into nice outfits. Some have disappointed me with their cut and stitch, while others have wowed me. Verily, you know a good tailor by how they can transform your fabric desires into something you want to wear daily. There are several fabrics that have been transformed into disasters. And they belong in the closet, where they bring life to it.
So on this day, I am told of a fabric wizard. I decide to try him, maybe with his magic needle and thread; he will rescue my stored away disasters. I visit his shop which is also his work station and I confirm he is indeed a wizard destined for the haut couture of Milan, Paris or Manhattan. I show him the clothing disasters of his kind and he flinches. Before I even tell him what I do not like from the outfit, he points it out himself. I have found ‘the one’ I think. This is the kind of tailor I wanted, the one who gives you his professional opinion and knows what will work and what will not on your body. The new found tailor tells me that whoever had made my outfit does not really belong in his kind and promises that he can salvage my beautiful fabric. I smile and know he is tooting his horn. That is what they all do. I leave with him my fabric and he tells me to collect later in the day as it required ‘only thirty minutes’. What I did not know is that all tailors are cut from the same fabric, interwoven with lies and disappointments, empty promises and the obvious desire to many an extra dime.
Later in the day, after about seven hours or so, I return to pick my outfit. It is almost closing time. The shop assistant is packing away the displayed fabrics for the day. I scan the shop but I do not see my tailor. I recognize my outfit, on the sewing machine but it does not appear if something has been done to it. I am thinking, ‘if it had been done with, it would have been pressed and folded ready for collection’. Inquire for my tailor and I am told that he is gone for the day. My fears are confirmed when I ask about my outfit. I am taken the same road of lies that I have trodden with many a tailor that, “we were swamped, I was told to fix it but weren’t informed that you were to pick it today…” I am exhausted and cannot listen to the bla bla.
I ask for my outfit back and the other tailor insists that she can fix it if I agree to wait. I do. Once again she takes my measurements, I guide her on what to do and she starts un-mending the outfit.
I take a seat and wait as I scan the shop. Color, color and more color. I am impressed by the warmth from the colors. Seated in the far right dark corner amongst the overhang fabrics and outfits is a lady, making a call on her cellphone. She is angry at the person on the other side of the phone. She has been since the last twenty minutes I have been waiting. For some reason, I had thought she is one of the tailors in the shop. When I got at the shop, she had been looking at some books and I thought they were books of account. I know now she is a client like me and she cannot make a choice of what dresses she needs made for her for her wedding which is in three days.
The tailor asks, the assistant, an old frail woman to help the lady in the dark to help the lady in the dark corner choose a design for her African themed wedding. She wants two outfits, for the marriage ceremony and for the party in the evening. Both outfits have to be made in two days, be fitted and necessary adjustments be made. I think that is a tall order. This tailor cannot make that happen. She declined to be involved in the design choosing citing fear of blame if the bride does not look fabulous. She cannot help her client to choose. She has not repaired my outfit even after the head tailor left instructions. She cannot do it.
The tailor is now done with the repairs of my dress. She asks me to try it on. I do. I’m not impressed. There is something not right with the outfit. She says she is tired and tells me I look great. I am not impressed by what I see on the mirror. I tell her where to make further adjustments. She says she has to undo the whole outfit and redesign it. I have to leave the outfit and come for it later, maybe tomorrow. She does not know when later is. I take my outfit, and decide I have to seek another tailor.