This sarong was a gift from Mr V during a period where we were living in different parts of Europe. I was in Spain, he was in England. Sarong is a Malaysian word and the Spanish word for sarong is pareo, but for years I've called this bright, colourful sarong with its naive tropical floral print "the Gauguin". In my time living in Spain it would faithfully accompany me to the beach. Whenever I wore it, my girlfriends would tell me that I reminded them of one of those Tahitian women that Gauguin was so fond of painting and it earned me the nickname "La Gauguin".
I have an irrational fondness for this sarong as it reminds me of those times. I might have been dealing with the upheaval and solitude that comes with a long distance relationship but I was never alone. In fact I was surrounded by amazing and wonderful women all hours of the day. We shared flats, cooked meals together, ate together and hauled ourselves to and from hours of flamenco classes daily. And in the summer we would all pile into a car together after our classes and drive to the coast to plunge beneath the waves and cool off. After a long swim I would wrap myself in the Gauguin and sleep on the sand as the sun went down, listening to the banter of my friends drifting away on the late evening sea breeze. And then we would do it all again the next day.
If there is one thing I am sure to pack whenever I return to Spain it is the Gauguin. It reminds me of being younger, more energetic, of more carefree times with friends. Of being drenched in art from the minute you woke up to the time you went to sleep and throughout your dreams.
Can clothes really make us feel like works of art? A strip of printed cloth certainly isn't going to bring back my youth but I can wrap it around me at the beach and fondly remember that I was once compared to a work of art whilst wearing it. And at the beach at least one can shrug off any preconceptions of what age appropriate clothing is. All are welcome here and there is only so much variation on the theme of what we can wear swimming and sunbathing, whatever our age. That's why I love the coast so much. The beach is a great levelling plain on fashion, age and body image related matters.
I am packing the Gauguin tonight as tomorrow I am heading to Spain for a badly needed break. I'm even choosing to miss out on attending London Fashion Week - that is how much I need this break! I'll be taking a simultaneous break from blogging too as I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and need a rest from all things computer related. Will catch up with you all when I get back.
If I was chart my pregnancy in terms of some of the best outfits I wore over a growing bump it would start with last summer at ...
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