I had looked for a dress form for a long time, in antique malls, in garage sales, flea markets, but never found the girl who was right for me. Too tattered, with shredded linen that looked like half-healed wounds, or too new, with prepubescent Kate Moss hips, (this would taunt me), or too expensive. Mainly, too expensive. There was one, tucked into the back of a beautifully staged stall at the Hillsboro Antique Mall, that was made up entirely of stiff hinged paper. A work of art. And as much as art.
Eleanor was half-hidden by the water-stained cardboard box she was stored in, out in the summer heat at the fairgrounds, in the territory staked out by the vendors who wouldn't pay the indoor fee. The man who tugged her free didn't seem to understand why I wanted her since I didn't sew. This seemed strange: he was selling old enamel bedpans and chairs without seats, so repurposing seemed to have been his thing. Eleanor was in pieces and dusty but, otherwise, lovely. She had child-bearing hips. She could be short or tall. She was twenty five dollars. She was mine.
At first, she went commando, draped in vintage necklaces.
But she started wanting belts, and the fluffy things that anthropologie was giving away with holiday gift wrap.
And she turned out to be perfect for new things too pretty to be put away.
She wore dresses,
and brooches made of sea shells and coral,
and homemade necklaces.
For some reason, everything fit her, though I swear she weighs more than I do. That's probably not true. But I don't begrudge her. She's my alter-ego, my fashion victim, my sister. My headless, armless, tweed covered sister.