With her dream of ‘fashion design by successive alteration’ now at risk, Anjali gave herself permission to do those things that only become conceivable when one is facing failure.
It was in her ‘Geometric Form and Perspective in Dress’ workshop in the town hall annex that Anjali met Eileen, mother of three at home and personal assistant to the Factory Manager at work. The names of Anjali’s workshops were designed to appeal to those Townspeople either prepared to consider radically different perspectives on dress or, at the very least, with a curiosity driven by pressing need. Eileen was prepared, pressed and in need.
‘I work in one of the last weaving mills in Wetledale,’ Eileen related over the fashionable Duchy biscuits which Panya had described as “certainly conducive”. ‘We are wool weavers, mixing local and imported wool. I am a Personal Assistant to the Factory Manager. We were partly owned by a holding company, which took the decision to buy out the other shareholders and take control. This decision was expensive, and now the family that owns our factory looks for a return. We cannot continue as we are. We must become more profitable.’
A good tailor is a good listener. The fine detailing on a stitched hem, or an embroidered lapel, can only be achieved by pinpoint attention and an informed decision as to where next to place the needle. Anjali waited for her first real client to recover the thread of her story, whilst ensuring that there were enough Duchy biscuits on Eileen’s china plate.
The wind, rattling the extractor fan in the consulting room’s small window, lulled. Eileen continued.
‘The representatives of the Danish owners came to view the weaving mill’s operations last week. They were accompanied by a lady with striking red hair. It is rumoured that she will take over the running of the factory. The Owners feel they need an outsider’s eye to make the significant changes that are required to achieve the profits they now crave – and which they have already written into their business plan.’
She reached into her case for a brown document file. She glanced inside; her forehead creased. Then she set the file down on the table and seemed to forget it was there.
‘The red-headed lady is dressed for the part she is auditioning for. She looks in control. The colour is confidence and capability. The cut is planning and precision of decision. You know that she can take people with her, because you are taken with her. The Danish family will trust her because she is tailored to the requirement and groomed for reconstruction. My Factory Manager is struggling with this.’
Eileen’s face creased again, and Anjali could see that her memory had thrown her back into those difficult days of discussion with the new owners.
‘There is something in the Danish spirit,’ Eileen said carefully, ‘which believes in design as the proof of reliability. My Factory Manager said to me last week, this Danish takeover is a Viking raid sewn out of damask; this bloody damask is a battle-axe for which we have no answer.’
‘Anjali,’ Eileen paused, and then she regained her momentum like a runner realising that somewhere ahead there must be the finishing line, ‘we are not colourful people in the valley of Wetledale, but we do have a determination riven out of the grey slate from the mountains. So, I think to myself, we must fight fire with fire. I saw the posters for your workshop, and I thought, this is the fire we need.’