That‘s probably the strongest relationship we know. Giving / receiving life, same sex, the associated confusion of identification, demarcation, admiration or opposition; and for a lifetime.
Clothes, our second skin, are often an interesting symptom in this constantly moving process. Clothes are always a way to show our personality, affiliations or demarcations. The mother feeds us and she is the first to dress us. She protects and adorns us. and she decides how to approach society. Fortunately, there are also more and more fathers who take over this task actively - and of course for the sons - but above all, I would like to look at the relationships between the women.
In my conversations with many women of different ages - all daughters, some mothers - I discover many details, from loving to terrible, that illustrate this relationship. In many I find myself again. They are small poetic fragments that are tender and powerful and quite normal.
For many years I have been designing and selling clothing in my profession and it has always been important to me that these clothes can be worn by as many different people as possible, in my case children and women; that it adapts to figure, style and taste. That the clothing expresses the personality, and does not take itself too seriously.
For it is always the people who actually interest me.
That‘s why mothers and daughters.
When I was pregnant, my mother said: ‘So now you see what it‘s like to be a mommy, how much work it is.’ As if we had been a challenge for her. I remember from my childhood that I felt like we - her children - were her ‘only happiness’.
She attached - and still does today - great importance to her outward appearance; and also to ours. What we wore was always important. As a consequence, I revolted, rather extremely, during my youth and my clothes were just sacks. She hated that. She was the one who cooked and dressed us; my father stayed out of it. I know at that time she was doing her very best.
Today I do things differently with my daughter. First of all I am not the only one responsible for her demands. Her father also dresses her and he cooks for us. I believe our relationship is much more relaxed. There are not only my rules, my tastes for her. Moreover, she already has her own ideas and likes to make herself beautiful with her favourite pieces. And if her choice doesn‘t match the weather or the occasion at all, we can always discuss it (so far). The less pressure I exert, the less she has to defend herself. Actually quite simple.
In her role as a daughter she is already much stronger than I am as her mom: you are a daughter by birth, and for a lifetime. You have to learn mothering at a time when you already have many other roles in life.
Although I love her more than anything, my daughter is not my only happiness.
I prefer to wear black. I think that you are always well dressed that way. It‘s all about the haptics, textures and surfaces. And that the fabrics fit together. Preferably viscose or cotton. That‘s why I rarely buy online. I have to handle and touch things.
I learned that early on from my mother. I like her sense for good, high quality fabrics. Her style is simple but classic, not fashionable in the sense of trendy. I inherited her wedding dress from Dries van Noten. It is over 20 years old, but completely timeless. It is floor-length and made of a black textured fabric that falls heavy and flowing. It has short tulip-shaped sleeves - very sweet - and at the level of the hips wide sewed fabric panels that knot like a belt at the back. The neckline is not very big and I like that it is simple but refined and of great quality fabric.
Otherwise, we do not exchange or share clothes. Neither of us like that.
My clothes are an expression of my personality. I always consider carefully what I would like to meet, in which I feel well; incidentally, quite independently of the occasion. In general, I‘m always a little bit dressed up too well. But I enjoy it. Clothing is my hobby and I invest a lot of time, thought and money in it. And I wear everything that hangs in my wardrobe too. Once a year, I go through it and then give away what I no longer wear.
I always give my mother clothes. It‘s fun to pick something for her, because I know her taste well and know what she values. And she wears the things I choose for her frequently and with great pleasure.
I remember: when I was little, right after the war, my mother biked many kilometres to get us something to eat. The war was over over, but we still had very little. And no clothes, especially for me.
As I have a brother, four years older than me, I inherited his clothes. They were much too big and nobody adapted them to my size. I was ashamed to look like that, but at the same time it was quite practical: with pants I could climb trees or ride a horse. I didn´t have to care because these clothes were old already. I hated dresses and I sure didn‘t want to look like a girl. Luckily they put me in a private school. There was no uniform and we could dress as we liked.
Like many other ladies of the sixties, Mom was really handsome when she was young. High heels, pretty blouses and a nice hair bun was her look. People often said she looked like Grace Kelly.
She learned to sew before she decided to follow her nursing studies even if nobody believed in her capacity.
She probably transmitted to me the taste of harmonising colours and dressing chic without spending much money. I also enjoy sewing basic pieces and I like experimenting with different fabrics and patterns. I absolutely love African prints and batiks.
When we were young my sister and I sewed amazing red ski pants. She looked incredibly good wearing them. They were really unique, tight, sexy and red. I was a bit jealous, because I could never wear this type of clothes. I don´t have the shape or the personality. I dress more discreetly. In fact that´s not quite true, I just dress differently, but I always wear big decorative earrings; except at work, as I am a nurse too.
Rarely do I wear high heels, but I have seen the world, lived in other countries and done everything I wanted, and my child is male and very hairy.
I don‘t want to look like everyone else. I want to stand out. As a musician, that is important; developing my style, expressing my personality in my appearance and music - and my uniqueness. And I don‘t care what the others think about it. It‘s about expressing myself and how I feel. That‘s how I feel about music and clothes. A given style narrows me down. I prefer to try out a lot and see if it suits me.
I find my mother‘s style cool and elegant. She is my role model. Her wedding suit was a jacket with wide padded shoulders and trousers with a high waistband, all in olive green; sooo cool. I like the emphasis on the shoulders, that‘s Superman. I thought it was great that she wasn‘t wearing a white wedding dress. That wouldn‘t have fitted either.
My mother is just as unconventional and true to herself as I want to be.
For my very first job interview in the marketing department of a large company I went to buy my outfit with my mother. On her advice I own chic wide trousers with a matching slim, short jacket. She persuaded me to add a ribbed, tight-fitting sleeveless but high-necked top. Of course, you couldn‘t see under the jacket that it had no sleeves. Yet that plus its tight but cuddly fit made me feel feminine and attractive, even though I was dressed appropriately and very seriously.
I took off my jacket at some point during my presentation and believe that this also had an effect.
Bare upper arms and shoulders are still very feminine, but powerful and subtly sexy. This way of dressing suits me much better than for example a deep décolleté or short skirts. The narrow jacket my daughter today still calls my „boss jacket“. In fact, she often lends me a classic jacket or other piece of clothing when it is „for her“.
She knows from childhood that I am „the woman among men“ in management.
So she lends herself a piece of sovereignty and adulthood - like „armour“ or a „weapon“ for an adult challenge.
‘Jeans day’ was the one day of the week we did not have to go to school in uniform. With a few friends, we always made it a party, choosing the style and each piece. And often, mostly, I used to get things out of my mother‘s wardrobe. I could too. Almost everything. But there were always some pieces I liked sooo much but wasn´t allowed to take, because I did not handle clothes carefully.
There was this great, light coloured and easy to wear coat that my grandmother donated to my mother. She wore it only once or twice. Otherwise, it hung in the closet under a protective film. I wanted it so much. When my grandma died two years ago, I finally got it. Suddenly it was not so important for my mother anymore.
I inherited almost half of my clothes from my grandmother or my mother. Most are many years old, and have always been well maintained and are well preserved. I always manage to make stains or holes in my clothes in a short time. That‘s just my way of dealing with things. I sit down on the floor or skateboard. It is important to me that I am able to move in my clothes - whether nice, fine or sporty - as I would like. And I do not move like my mom. I‘ve always wanted to and I‘m proud to study design, skateboard and leave Colombia. Today my mother accepts my life and my values, even if they are different from hers.
I have a huge scarf, soft and very cuddly. That´s my all time favourite. My mom gave it to me ten years ago. It shows a big head of an indian chief. And honestly neither the illustration nor the colours are what I would have chosen myself. Amazingly, I feel exceptionally well in it and much admired. Since with her gift, she has given me a new perspective on me. We often do that, give each other clothes or jewellery. And it always has to do with the view of the respective other.
Sometimes people think we are alike, but in fact we are very different; we love and respect each other. As a child, I always wished that my mother was a bit more flowery or just plain normal. Her dress style was very progressive and she did not put on make-up. She was the first to wear miniskirts. None of my friends‘ mothers did that, and I thought it was just awful at the time. Today I would probably be proud of her.
Funnily, today her style is much more classic, but still very tasteful.
I remember a situation - I was a teenager - we were standing side by side in the bathroom in front of the mirror while I painted Kajal around my eyes and my mother, looking over at me and in a tone both amazed and enthusiastic, says, „I have a daughter who is making-up!“ It was as if she had said: she is different from me, my daughter, she is an adult, she does something that I do not do - great!
My first influential role model was Beate Schmidt At that time, at my first SDS gathering in 1967, she impressed me. She spoke as the only woman in this male-dominated, revolutionary group militantly public with the megaphone and represented all my ideas of a modern self-determined woman who wanted to change society. And she wore -
I remember exactly - a tight black leather pants and a black and white rabbit fur jacket.
I am fortunate to have grown up in a time when everything seemed possible. We wanted, indeed had to, demarcate ourselves against
a corroded society. We had nothing to lose, we were not worried and
we were optimistic about a future. We were political and had the
dream to really change society.
My parents - being young - were considered liberal and modern by
my friends. For my mother, however, you had to look neat outside.
So she managed to subtly convert my desire for one in the 50s „rivets“ called jeans in a multi-colored striped dungarees, which I did not want, but somehow still wore.
Since 1978 I dye my hair bright red. It was a personally very complicated year due to the serious illness of a good friend (but went well).
But I can not remember if or what reaction this new hair color caused my mother; it probably did not matter much.
Today she likes my „Pleats Please“ style.
I don´t really care what I wear. As long as it is comfortable and I can move as I want to.
I don´t know who gave me the dress I am wearing . One of our neighbours probably gave it to us. I like it because it´s big and light. That is what mom is always doing: exchanging clothes with neighbours and friends. Sometimes I meet someone in our quarter who says: Ah, I really like this dress on you, once it was my daughter‘s dress.