My First Designer Piece — by Philippe Pourhashemi

It’s February 1989 and my grandmother is sitting in one of the red velvet chairs in the Jean-Paul Gaultier shop on rue Vivienne. Today is my thirteenth birthday and it looks like she’s in the mood for spoiling me. We have just walked past the till downstairs and headed to the first floor where the menswear department is located. I can’t take my eyes off this huge digital clock on the wall. I love the glass cabinets, the quiet atmosphere and the velvet hangers. Everything seems so perfect.

The whole experience is quite intimidating and I’m panicking a little bit, but my grandmother seems unfazed. She’s chatting to the sales assistant who looks like one of the catwalk models. He’s tall, with longish dark hair, bushy eyebrows and a Southern accent, Spanish perhaps. The Spring Summer show is projected on a huge video screen and some of the men’s clothes are incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this before — peach chiffon shirts with lace edging, double-breasted pinstripe jackets with matching trousers and lightweight viscose knits that are almost see-through. This is so much better than the Junior Gaultier shop. My hands caress each piece carefully, trying not to attract the sales assistant’s attention.

“Do you want to try this one on?” he says, with a deep, masculine voice.

I’m looking at my grandmother, expecting a sign of approval. She nods accordingly.

“Okay, I’ll try it on.”

The sales assistant rushes to the changing room where he hangs the t-shirt I have picked. I can barely hide my joy and blush a little bit as I watch him close the heavy, metallic door.

It’s a dark red cotton t-shirt with someone’s face printed on it. Initially, I can’t really tell whether it’s a man or a woman, but I think it’s a man with long hair. There is a sentence printed on it that reads “I am a poor and lonesome designer”. I’m looking at the price tag and it’s not that expensive. Actually, it looks great on and the colour suits me, I think. I slowly open the changing room door.

“Oh oui, Philippe, j’adore!” says my grandmother excitedly. “Ce sera mon cadeau pour ton anniversaire.”

I can’t even remember what happens next.  I’m probably hyperventilating or in a state of complete bliss. Does life get any better than this? My first Gaultier t-shirt! And what an amazing collection! It is so incredible and I think he’s such a great designer. I want to be thirteen forever!

Last year, I visited my grandmother at her nursing home. She had developed Alzheimer’s disease and lost a lot of weight. She didn’t remember who I was, but mentioned my name a few times in her erratic speech. There were still moments where the excited little girl was back and her joy and enthusiasm were as winning as ever. She passed away last November.

I don’t think I’ve got the t-shirt anymore. I must have worn it to death and still had it in my twenties. It probably disappeared somewhere or got lost while moving out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my grandmother’s smile that day and the afternoon we spent together. It is a memory that I’ll cherish for a very, very long time.

(pp)

Proposed by Dandyakuza on Monday 05 April 2010 at 12:15 AM

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That was so sweet. xxxDiane

By DP · 06.04.2010 · 05:33 PM

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