Drawing of a green dress on a dressmaker's form. Caption reads: "Adelaide made dresses."

Designer short story by Iris Carden

Settle in, dear reader, while I tell you the strange tale of Adelaide, who made her living doing something she loved, but who dreamed of greater success.

Adelaide made dresses, not ordinary dresses, but beautiful, amazing, incredible dresses, that always drew attention.

She made the kind of dresses that were too special, too impractical, and too uncomfortable, for everyday use.

Adelaide made dresses for weddings, balls, high school formals, and dance students.  All of her creations were of her own design from start to finish.  While talking with the client about what they wanted and the event, she would draw the dress. The drawing would incorporate the client’s ideas, but it was all Adelaide’s imagination.  As she drew, she chose colours and shaped the dress to flatter the client.  

No matter the clients’ age or shape or personal assets, she would look stunning in a dress made by Adelaide.

Everyone in her small town knew if you wanted a dress for a very special occasion you went to Adelaide. Women and girls ordered their gowns months in advance, afraid of missing out.

Unlike many people working in creative industries, Adelaide had a steady stream of clients, and made a reasonable living.  She loved her work, loved everything from the texture of the fabrics, to the design work, to the delight on her clients’ faces when they collected their perfect dresses made especially for them.

You might think, dear reader, that Adelaide was living the perfect life, earning a living from doing what she loved to do.  Adelaide however, was not happy.  She was jealous of famous designers whose clients walked catwalks and red carpets and had endless attention.  Adelaide was the best dressmaker in her town, but she wanted to dress stars, not local brides and girls going to formals. She was sure she would be happy if she designed and made clothes for the rich and famous.

Sometimes, small town fame leads to something more widespread. 

One of those high school girls who had been so excited to have a formal dress made by Adelaide, went on to fame and fortune as a singer. 

When Melissa Carr made the big time, there was only one person she wanted making her clothes.  Adelaide was sewing for a star, making costumes for video clips and concerts, for awards shows and all of the glitzy places a star had to go.

Adelaide was sewing day and night, for just one client, referring everyone else to other dressmakers in town, whose work was not the same standard as hers.

Melissa bragged about her exclusive dressmaker to others in her circle, and soon Adelaide was sewing for even more famous people.  She had to hire an assistant, and then two assistants. 

Adelaide began to imagine herself leading a business rivalling Chanel, Dior or other haute couture design houses.

Her assistants, however, did not have the same attention to detail as Adelaide.  They didn’t have her skill, so she still did most of the work herself.  

Orders poured in, and she was sleeping fewer and fewer hours, trying to meet the unrealistic deadlines of clients who were far more demanding than any she’d previously had.

Any work she trusted to assistants had to be checked, and often re-done, so even the help seemed worse than unhelpful.

The day came, when she missed her deadline.  The client in question simply wore another gown, provided by a more famous designer.

That client never ordered anything else from Adelaide.  

Over the next few weeks, she missed more deadlines, and lost more clients.

Then, the assistants came to work and found Adelaide sitting on the floor, crying uncontrollably over a lace skirt she was beading, while shaking wildly.  A visit to the doctor resulted in Adelaide being ordered to rest for at least a fortnight, or risk having to be admitted to hospital.

A fortnight is a long time in the world of what’s popular at the moment.  It was long enough for all of her famous clients, apart from Melissa, to forget her.

And so dear reader, we leave Adelaide, who has learned to be happy sewing for the special events in the lives of the women of her local community, with the occasional special dress for her one remaining famous client, who always asks if Adelaide’s very sure she can handle it. 

I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more:

Strange Tales

While you’re here…

Find Iris Carden's books:  
    at Lulu (publisher)     
    at Amazon  
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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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