I've been making these designer tote bag things. It's a long story, but the threads of my life seem to be self-propelled of late.
Recently, maybe eight months or so ago, I said on Facebook that I was going to get a sewing machine and start sewing again. I said that I was going to make curtains for the bedroom.
My friend Judy said she had a fairly new sewing machine if I wanted it; I finally said "Yes" after a bunch of humming and hawing.
Can you believe that?
I mean, the Golden Goose has laid a golden egg right in my lap, and it takes me a couple of months to say, "Oh! It's a golden egg, and it looks like it's for me."
So I get the sewing machine and I take some classes, because the technology has changed so much these past 40 years, and I start jazzing up one of the little projects from one of the classes.
I get all these ideas. They just come to me.
I get a nice guy in an art store to make a stencil of my initials, the way I sign them when I use a credit card or something.
Now I have a logo, just like the big guys. I make the handles longer and the squares bigger.
I start using Marc Jacobs remnants from Mood, which is right down the street.
Can you imagine that? There are two Mood stores in this entire country, and one of them is less than half a mile away.
I learn slowly, it would appear. All these golden eggs, and I just stand around looking at them till I realize, "Oh! It's another golden egg!"
I use the gorgeous, flashy, neo-hip fabric for the linings of the bags as well as for the outsides. I use different fabric designs, one for the outside, and another for the lining, and I mix them all up.
The bags start looking like pieces of jewelry, like accessories. It's always bugged me that the insides of things aren't as glam as the outsides. I'm changing that.
I show some bags to Brian, who's a big wig advertising guy. One of his main accounts is a high-end car company. He sends me a sample press release for the car, and I write one like it for the bags. We get on the computer and we tighten it up, Brian and Gabriella and me. Gabriella's my daughter.
So that was a thing that happened in the History of My Bags. We all let it percolate for a bit.
Then Gabriella said, "Hey, Ma, send the bags to me, and I'll get a model, or maybe a few models, women beyond their twenties, and I'll take pictures and make a website." That's what she does for a living, photography and websites, but how sweet of her. She's uber artistic. We bought a couple of website names, which I can't remember at the moment. Gabriella and Brian and I talked about that, too, something catchy but short, not confusing, easy to remember.
I got some tiny labels for the linings, "Les Bijoux by Judy." "Bijoux" means "jewels" in French. It's pronounced "bee-ju." It sounds pretty when you say it.
Then, one night, Bert brings me some fabric.
Bert was a contestant on Project Runway last season. He is a genius designer of elegant red carpet gowns of the Chanel and Halston eras, only he brings them into this era. He's that good, he has his own era. He showed me a gown where the fabric had been cut in a triangle, and it had only one seam. I can't for the life of me figure out how he did it.
So he gives me two big pieces of Asian silk that aren't large enough for a gown, so he can't use them. The silk has lovely flowers embroidered on it. One piece is a brilliant gold, as gold as a golden egg, and the other is more subdued, a light sort of beige.
"You can make carpet bags," says he, says Bert. "Line them with something else. Go to the library and look at antiquated carpet bags from 200 years ago." "Uh, okay," say I, I who doesn't begin to know how to make a pattern for something. I can't even draw a picture for a pattern. Bert, on the other hand, can't stop doodling designs. He does it almost absentmindedly, the way he breathes.
So the Asian silk sits under my ironing board, in the bedroom, in a tall kitchen garbage bag with red handles, the way Bert bestowed it upon me, for a good couple of months. But, of course! Mais oui! Pero si!
I stew. I pretend the tall kitchen garbage isn't sitting there, getting dusty with LA dust.
Finally, I put my foot down.
I get slinky, slinky black silk, and I make a golden bag with a black silk lining.
I took it with me last night, thinking I'd run into Bert. I'd show him how I'd defiled his lovely Asian silk. He'd take one look and be very disappointed, and wish he'd given the fabric to someone else. He wouldn't be able to hide his disappointment.
I took the stuff out of my purse and put it in the bag.
Bert didn't show up.
In all of this, this was the first time I'd actually used one of my bags myself.
I put it on a chair. The black silk took over, melting all over the place, like it was fluid, like it was in motion and going somewhere, like it had a life of its own, gently protected by the golden non-carpet bag Asian silk from Bert.
The bag looked like someone else had made it, maybe Bert. All these people walked by it and wanted to know about it.
I bottom-lined it.
They didn't know anything at all about The Sewing Machine Golden Goose story.
I didn't know what I'd made till I saw it in action.
Tomorrow, I have a job interview downtown, and I'm going to use one of the Marc Jacobs bags and see if it comes to life.
Gabriella's going to find some model friends in a couple of weeks, when she finishes the projects she's getting paid to do, out there in Santa Fe, where it's over 100 degrees and too hot to go outside.
I still haven't made the curtains.