Two days before the deadline Panya came into the consulting room. The central table was scattered with drawings, fabrics, and the accoutrements of tailoring. Anjali had set three roughly cut garments on the mannequins at the end of the table, trusting that inspiration would come from their unrefined forms.
Panya stood looking across the room.
‘You only have two more days,’ Panya said, still holding the edge of the ajar door, ‘and the clients will need to approve the designs. We are perhaps a little behind where we should be.’
‘It was easier when I was making more guesses,’ replied Anjali. ‘Now that I feel that I know what I am looking for….it is proving to be a harder task. Both the Factory Manager and the Financial Manager need to carry the look of certainty. But I do not know this Financial Manager. I do not know how the garments need to reshape his approach. I am designing without a clear objective.’
Now discussing her struggle with Panya, Anjali was taken aback by the sense of relief she felt.
‘I know that the garment and its wearer must complement each other. It is a question of neither the clothing nor the person being stretched beyond the capability of the material from which they are made. I know my garments. I know, given the right formation, what conviction they could carry to the assembly.’
Anjali sat down heavily and began flicking through a file of sketches.
‘I do not know this Financial Manager well enough,’ she said, opening the file at a page that was heavy with alterations in blue pencil. ‘I do not know what this man brings to the garment. But I do know that any garment that is made to carry too much of the weight, that is pressed too hard, will let its indifference be known.’
The frustration from the last days and this, the worst day, was sewn across Anjali’s eyes.
‘If that should happen the spell will break and the pitch will be lost. My vision has clouded. I cannot see my way through this.’
Panya walked over to the mannequins and cast her eyes over the three garments.
‘I wanted to capture that warm feeling of an evening amongst one’s friends, Panya,’ said Anjali, feeling the need to justify her work. ‘I want to capture the feeling of that stage when ideas are contemplated rather than judged.’
Panya stood for a moment, like a conductor expertly pausing and feeling for that moment when the first note should sound.
‘You are very close to this problem,’ she said in time. ‘I do not have your refinement, but I do have the essential drive to get the alterations done. Tell me clearly what it is that you are wanting; and then once I know what it is, let me take it through to the end.’
Anjali was still studying the scribbled page of the file. Panya reached across and quietly took the file from Anjali.
‘You only have two more days and you will need time to do the final alterations. Now is the time that we need to do, and not to design. Let the influence that you seek from these garments stay where it is. It is enough, Anjali. Trust me, it is enough.’
In the last two days there was an easy collaboration between the two women. They made smart cut jackets, and they blended trousers. They accessorised to hint at authority, capability and success. Rather than a sweeping statement of fashion, this was the elegant assertion of influence. Their combined skill in alteration was the deciding factor. They inched, and then they ran, towards their persuasive designs.