Versace Visions and Stiletto Dreams

February 26, 2008
By Danielle Minter, Mason, OH

Armed with an old veteran at my side I pushed open the glass doors, preparing for the jungle thriving ahead. Deep breath. Map out your surroundings. Remember the plan. Ready or not, we plunged into a swarm of chiffon and silk, questionable polyester and cotton blends and the season’s latest animal prints. Focus. Focus. Take a quick left to avoid saleswoman spraying musty-smelling perfume in your direction. Dodge the hoard of vultures, or possibly old women, tearing the sale rack to shreds. One more right past the accessories . . .

Most people esteem clothing as little more than a status symbol, a way to fit in or simply articles to put on because nudity is not well accepted in today’s society. To these fashionably-challenged folks, I can scarcely relate. Valentino’s extensive vintage collections mirror Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and the sight of an intricately-sewn couture gown leaves me completely awestruck. Although the scarlet mark of ketchup stain on white pants strikes a chord of terror in my heart, I value fashion for much more than the obvious aesthetic appeal.
Every outfit is an art form and an opportunity to create a mood, evoke emotion and transform one into a new character. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a design proclaims a million. Nothing is more satisfying the challenge of hunting down the perfect combination from the main piece to every last accessory. Every spring and fall holds the promise of new lines and new beginnings.
Growing up, I declared many careers to be my destiny, from teaching to tap-dancing. It was not until I reached the age of eleven that I realized that the fashion industry was the party and I yearned to be V.I.P. While teachers assigned math problems on the white-board, I designed outfits in my head. Assorted shoes styles, from strappy stilettos to sporty sneakers, bordered my worksheets. These intricate garments dancing in my imagination often lost their marvel when transferred to paper. My hands lacked the deft ability to translate the language of these images into a reality. Coming upon this heartbreaking conclusion at the rife, old age of thirteen, I felt my career in fashion had ended before it had even begun.

My focus shifted heavily onto academics after entering high school. Achieving high grades in honors classes, I received no shortage of career advice, “Just think about it! You could become a pharmacist! You’ll get a job right out of college making a nice salary with great hours. Doesn’t that sound perfect?” The mundane vision of myself spending a lifetime bathed in a shapeless, white lab coat immediately resolved that question. Seeing other students follow straight and narrow paths has only affirmed my desire to diverge. Dreaming of runway shows, creative freedom and fast-paced photo shoots sparks a twinkle in my eyes and a whirlwind of thoughts through my mind.
Today I find myself holding the keys to many doors, but more than ever, I am reeling with the desire to learn, create, style and delve into anything fashion-related. Contrary to my prior beliefs, the fashion industry is bursting with opportunities in addition to just designing. Fortunately for me, these careers are possible without ever having to stitch a single seem or bead a single blouse.
. . . Suddenly, gleaming before my very eyes were those perfectly-cranberry mary-janes made of shiny, patent leather. Slipping them on, images of crisp shirts and pencil skirts pieced together in my mind. The dangerously high heels caused me to wobble for a moment, before strutting down my fantasy catwalk.

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