Occasionally one comes across a picture/photo that speaks volumes and at the same time raises questions. This picture was included in an invitation to the opening of the summer season for one of our well-known dress designers, Trelise Cooper Included in the opening will be a showing of photographs by Melanie Mason several of which have been printed onto parchment and will be offered for sale. This is one of Melanie’s photographs.
The photo speaks to me of some of the villages I saw in Tuscany, set on hillsides with steep roads leading up to the houses. The houses have deep, sloping roofs and as in this case, many have windows opening over the street and some have very small balconies projecting above the street.
So this photo immediately posed the question of why was the white dress hanging outside the window? Was it there to dry having been washed, to air before being put away after having been worn, or was it there as a sign?
Perhaps here lives a damsel in distress who needs rescuing by her knight in shining armour. Her much older husband is very rich but uncaring of her. He spends his nights carousing with his friends and with harlots and she feels neglected. And so this married woman has sought love and understanding in the arms of a younger man. It may be that her husband is away for the night and therefore, this dress which in this case becomes a nightdress, gives the information to her swain that the coast will be clear this evening.
And what will be his response? Will he arrive after dark so that nobody sees his arrival? Will he boldly walk through the front door of what I think is a palazzo owned by the husband’s family and therefore, manned by his trusty retainers? If this is the case, the lovers will have to be particularly careful not to raise any suspicion. How will they do this? And would it not be easier to arrange to meet at an hotel or another place away from prying eyes? But wait, maybe that is what the white dress is saying – “Meet me at the hotel on White’s Road”. No doubt there will be less likelihood of the tryst being reported back to the husband.
So I vote for the message being to meet at the hotel.
But perhaps after all the more mundane answer to my question is the right one. No lovers’ message here. Simply it tells us that the lady of the house wore the dress last night and it is now being hung out to air or dry before being put away to wear again. Maybe she is greatly loved by her older or even young husband and has no need for trysts with knights in shining armour.
Do you see a message here too? I would like to hear it if so.
BREAKING NEWS – I have just returned from the showing. Fabulous clothes but more importantly I met Melanie. What a truly delightful person she is and I hope to see more of her in the future. I also bought a copy of her book, Goodbye, which contains a collection of photos with accompanying prose. I was wrong – the photo was not taken in Tuscany but rather in St Remy de Provence, France. the accompanying prose is by Colette. As the book is “for times of sadness and loss” the prose deals with loss.
“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. ”