The power of positive clothes
Dressed for success ... The Voice winner Karise Eden. Photo: Supplied
Fashion designer Peter Morrissey is an old friend who tells many fantastic stories. One of my favourites comes from his childhood. Peter is one of six children raised by two madly in-love, positive parents. They brought up their kids in Sydney within very modest means. Peter talks of a small family home where they all shared bedrooms, bathrooms and a dining room table with only two chairs. His mother sometimes shopped for clothes at GoodWill and his brothers and sisters all wore each other’s hand-me-downs.
Each morning, Peter’s father woke his children with the same message: 'Kids it's time to get up and get dressed to go dreaming'.
I fear for Karise Eden. In Australia we seem to take down what we build up
Every. Single. Day. Get dressed to go dreaming … what a beautiful affirmation.
The moral of this fashion fable is that Peter never once realised that his clothes were different from other kids because of the way his dad made him feel about wearing them. In his young mind they were just as fabulous as a Tom Ford tuxedo. He harnessed all that positivity and worked hard until the Fairy Godmother of Good Fortune turned the dream he dressed for into a reality. We should never underestimate the power of clothes. The optimism they can bring and the ability they have to transform when the human spirit struggles.
I was reminded of Peter’s story last night as I watched Karise Eden win The Voice. For a 19-year-old girl who just 10 months ago wrote her winning single from the adversity of a top bunk in a kids' refuge that black lace frock must have felt like it held magical powers. Power to make her feel special. Power to make her music heard. Power to dream bigger than she had ever dreamed before. Power to change her life.
I am of course leaving out the small fact that she was actually dressed by someone else to the fulfill the promise of the show's dream but ... either way that little black dress did its job.
I feel for stylists on shows like The Voice. It’s a hard gig. Every week they have to find outfits that not only look good on television but suit the artist, the song, the set and sell the dream. They have to contend with the very different body shapes, heights, egos and opinions of the talent and then deal with the public and what we think they should be putting our beloved contestants in. From the very first show the Twitter stream has been full of Voice fashion commentary. Every bit of sequins has been scrutinised. No one has been safe – judges, contestants, coaches – but by the finale we unanimously agreed that wardrobe got it right and picked a winner for the winner.
Looking at pictures of Karise covered in confetti on the front page of every paper yesterday I couldn’t help fear for the girl in the pretty dress. Outside the safety of the voting process, the protection of the judges and the army of stylists is the cold, hard industry in which not everyone is kind. The next part of the dream is going to be hard for Karise Eden.
Let's hope that whoever is surrounding this extraordinary young girl with an extraordinary talent guides her with love and prepares her for the fact that in Australia we seem to take down what we build up. Karise needs to be taught that once you realise the dream you must next learn how to dress to protect it.
I’m afraid she’s going need all the protection she can get.