Have you ever wondered why some things happen the way they do?  I used to ponder this all the time.  I read voraciously to find the answer.  I consumed books that some might consider to be a bit ‘out there;’ I talked to people who I thought have a sound view on life; I spent time practicing the Transcendental Meditation I learnt years ago.  And then one day I thought I found the answer (no, it was not 42).  The answer, or more appropriately, my answer, was that things are the way they are because of the choices we have made.  And with that bit of wisdom firmly implanted into my head, I then got on with doing what I do.  What I do is, as you may have surmised, is to enjoy my life and remain close to those people who are in it (which would include you, of course).

I also do projects, but you already know that.  With summer approaching at the speed of light (a very dim light some days I fear), the sun’s rays have stimulated my productive genes.  So having said that, a few updates. 

Whilst I think I have told you that I am all set for the exhibition this October of my Cuadros Doblados, the past week saw four more of them materialise.  Okay, so ‘materialise’ isn’t exactly the right word.  How about, “I busted my butt to make four more?”  Yes, that is more like it.  These were heavily stimulated by the fact that I have been spending more free time on Amélie, and being surrounded by boats is the best stimulator for anyone with the sailing gene firmly embedded in his or her DNA. 

Next, I have spent quite a bit of free time working on the scarf project.  This was a bit trickier, as I am still waiting the delivery of the 120 initial production run from Italy.  So instead of just sitting waiting for the delivery agent to ring me, I began to put together some thoughts on how I would sort out the distribution model if this project takes off.  The reason I said it was tricky is that this has always been quite easy for me to do when I am working with a client, but to figure it out for yourself whilst balancing your own mental models about what works can be challenging.  After hours,…no, days…of consideration, I knew that the first step would be to raise visibility around what I was working on.  Let’s see (I undoubtedly said to myself), to raise visibility, one needs to let people know what you are doing.  Right.  I contacted several extremely bright friends who are in the fashion industry in Paris, London, and New York and told them what I was up to.  They all expressed interest, but also wanted to see what I had been designing.  Buggers.  But, as a big believer in the far-eastern philosophical statement “When the student is ready, the teacher appears;” I was ready, and a solution was in front of me. 

Earlier this week, I went on a couple of photo shoots.  With the kind and gracious assistance of two pretty fabulous friends, we went off and took a couple of hundred photos of them wearing the sample scarves I have in my possession currently.  With those in hand, I then slammed together a ‘test’ website so other people could see the output of my scarf project.  Whilst this site is only temporary, at least now there is a way to show the scope and direction of the project.

Last week also brought me a flashback of sorts.  I had received a note from someone who, years ago, I knew very well.  She had been reading these chapters and wrote to tell me that she still had in her possession, one of the Shar-Pei coats.  Okay, so now you are probably thinking, ‘what are the Shar-Pei coats?’  Years ago, and I do mean years ago, I had considered expanding my horse breeding business to include dogs.  Not any dogs; Shar-Pei dogs.  These are the adorable little dogs that have shed-loads of extra skin that hangs on them like an oversize coat.  One of my sons and two of my friends had gone to a Shar-Pei breeder to learn more about the breed.  That evening, after our visit, we went to dinner and whilst ravishing a pizza, I discounted the dog breeding idea, but then realised that someone (me, of course) should be able to design women’s jackets that would have multiple folds and overlaps on them.  Bingo.  The next day I went to a fabric shop and bought a sewing pattern – the fact that I didn’t sew didn’t bother me.  A sewing pattern is just like a blue-print, and I could read blue-prints.  That evening I made my first Shar-Pei coat.  It looked like…let’s see, what is the right word here?  Right.  It looked like shit.  The next night I made another one.  The third night I made another one, and finally I knew I was on the right track.  Not owning a sewing machine was making this difficult and I was getting frustrated by having to use a needle and thread to whip these out, but the third coat wasn’t all that bad.  The fourth day I hired a seamstress to do these properly, and I bought a sewing machine to make her life easier.  After several weeks, my seamstress had finally developed a pattern that worked and began to produce these coats in two styles; one formal, and one that was done with fun in mind.  So last week, ‘la femme blonde’ wrote to tell me she still had one of them, and then sent me a photo of it.  Quite the flashback from 25 years ago. 

I would write more today, but it is time to go out and wash Miranda and Amelia, and then head over to Amélie to enjoy the day.

Oh, right.  One more thing. You can see the mocked-up website of the scarves at http://designlaantigua.com


one of the calitas near my house


a view from  the Oliver market


in front of Sol y Mar

where Amélie has spent the winter


Pacha, during one of the photo shoots


it could be the last remaining Shar-Pei coat in existance

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, James B. Rieley