I wore my Zac Posen dress once around my bedroom for an hour. Rest assured I didn’t have an extra grand under my cushion for a Zac Posen dress. At the time, I was an intern at a big time modeling agency. I got paid in air kisses and I saved up to splurge on a venti cup on Fridays. However, one of the major perks of a being a girl in this position…Samples. Samples flew around like candy. Try ons that the showroom never picked up, “trade” the models didn’t want, you name it. However, my bounty usually came in the form of jeans from the irregular pile and promotional t shirts. One day, my lovingly abusive boss called me into his office. “Are you a 2? You’re like a 2 right? But you’re short. Whatever, try this on see if it fits you.” He held this perfect dress against me, audibly assessing if I’d do it justice. “This would be good on a really high booty like yours,” he says, continuing his special brand of compliments. I tried the dress on, honestly thinking my eccentric boss just wanted some entertainment. I went into the bathroom an intern, I came out Naomi Campbell. The dress was mine. I may have died for a tiny stretch of time. It was all mine, garment bag and all. To be completely transparent, I was never a huge Zac Posen fan. I had a casual appreciation for Zac Posen – that is until someone offered him to me for free. He may not have been my favorite, but it was certainly better than anything else I had going on. Ryan Gosling may not be my dream man, but I do a lot worse on a regular basis so I would never kick him out of bed. With that said, this experience had a lot more to do with the show than with Zac himself. I was all about the show. This was my first time seeing something on a runway…on Carmen freaking Kass no less and owning it. Carmen’s legendary clavicle peeking through this baby pink princess of a dress. The strobe lights lovingly hitting every panel of satin. This was pre-Lincoln Center Fashion Week when the show part of the show still mattered.
For all my appreciation, my Zac Posen never saw the light of day. I attended a few semi worthy events, but they never felt quite good enough for my dress. No one was important enough to have a Zac Posen dress worn to their birthday party. No gallery opening, magazine party earned the right. Usher’s plus one invitation to the Grammy’s never showed up so I couldn’t wear it there. My perfect dress lived in a canvas garment bag. That canvas garment bag lived on the top shelf of my closet; looking down at my inferior clothes, judging them. Just having it there in my closet did it for me. My dress was the first time I made the connection between seemingly trivial possession and emotion. This one piece of clothing carried with it overwhelming pride. Pride, as I came to understand, is an enigmatic thing; equal parts damaging and empowering. I attached my Posen to a peak moment of pride in my life. Not because I was particularly proud of how I attained it – it was put in my lap, but proud of how it identified me. The dress was a manifestation of the woman I intended to be one day. For all the underpay, all the unopened bills and grilled cheese sandwich dinners – I was still the kind of girl who had a Zac Posen runway dress ready to go at a moments notice. It was a reaffirmation that at least one part of who I wanted to be is already real. I loved being that young, that excited about the grown up I was becoming. Clothes can also be bookmarks, saving a place in your life that you’re going to want to revisit one day.
Aside from the one time I tried it in on in my bedroom to make sure it still loved me, we never made it work. Life moved on and we both grew older. The reality of adulthood brought with it demons like rent, health insurance, and food. For about two years in my early twenties, I went through a seasonal cycle of scrambling for clothing, electronics or non-vital organs I could sell online. I ultimately sold my baby pink princess on eBay to a lucky buyer in Toronto. I used to imagine the life my dress was living; Attending a Canadian wedding, being taken to a parents anniversary dinner maybe. But alas, I’d never know how she was or if her owner was treating her well. I got $175 for the dress. I had faith that countless pieces would find their way from a runway to my closet in the future. It’s been ten years and thus far ‘countless’ is a vast overstatement. With age came new priorities and the number and value of names in my closet hasn’t been a major one. With maturity came a personal sense of style, also changing how I assessed value.
We never know how life, the talents we discover, the people we kiss, the clothes we wear will define us as we get older. They all come together eventually, either in line with our intentions or in defiance of them. I’ve become the woman I intended to be and as it turns out that woman would never wear a pink satin dress.