Tuesday 20 January 2015

Garment 4: Exploration #2: Sie Liebt Dich

Sie Leibt Dich, yeah, yeah, yeah
The "Sie Liebt Dich" top is the second of two metallic blue+brown, over-sized, sleeveless tunics born out of a beautiful relationship with the first garment I ever draped for myself.

The background

Blossom's blossoms. Sigh.
The pink linen top with safety-pin daisies that preceded "Sie Liebt Dich" was inspired by one of Blossom's exquisite embroidery samples, and draped as homework for a collar class. Comfortable and easy to wear, I lived in it all last summer. The only thing is, a draped collar is not meant to go into battle, as Blossom would say. The kiss of death is creasing the gently folded neck edge: no washing, no drying, and certainly no ironing. I ignored this fact completely when choosing the linen fabric and utilitarian design for such a delicate feature as a couture-technique collar. Figured I would deal with it later.

Before: perky
But as I said, I wore it a lot, and eventually it needed to be washed! I went to all kinds of lengths to preserve the collar: I washed it by hand, holding the precious collar out of the water. When it got wet anyway I hung it dry, taking pains to separate the collar layers, thereby keeping the fold uncreased - kind of. I steamed it, wearing an oven-mitt-like protective ironing .....mitt. Eventually, I gave in and chucked the thing in with all the other wash. 

After: flacid - in a good way
It was a sad moment, knowing my beautiful collar was most sincerely dead. After a brief period of mourning I took a look to see if there was anything to be salvaged. Well... the whole thing, actually! It looks terrific! It has gone from crisp, precise, hovering, elegant, full of hope and promise to soft, droopy, relaxed, comfortable, enveloping, wrinkled, creased, experienced and full of character. I loved it before, but I love it after, too! It's like trying to decide which version of my daughter I love best: the smiley, snugly baby who smells like butterscotch; the wobbly toddler with the black eye, splashing in the toilet when I'm not looking; the almost-8-year-old who rubs my back when I vomit "because we're connected, you know". I love them all, and I love the transformation.

The garment, itself

I love it so much I made two copies so someone else and someone else might enjoy it, too. Cotton or linen or a blend, the fabric was handed down to me by a friend. It's a bit heavy, and I expect the colours will crack eventually. Hope so, anyway; it will be good consolation for killing that poor draped collar.

Sie Liebt Dich

"Sie Liebt Dich" is one of only two songs The Beatles ever recorded in another language, the other being "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand". The German branch of their record label suggested it, convinced their records wouldn't sell in Europe, otherwise. Though they didn't feel it was necessary to their growing popularity, the Beatles all reluctantly agreed, being a little sweet on Germany, having practically grown up there, after all, to misquote John Lennon. The general consensus is that the pronunciation is done well, but they refused to ever translate their songs again. Just as well; they had other, more important, things to do!

Interesting tidbit half-remembered from a memoir by John Lennon's personal assistant during his time in New York: John Lennon did speak some German, but it was phrases like, "How much for the hour?" or some-such. And there exists a wonderful snip of George Harrison being interviewed in German and singing as much as he can remember of a German folk song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj5tmhdcUAA

"She Loves You" is important for these reasons:

  • it is considered a landmark in the evolution of song-writing by John and Paul. A seemingly insignificant detail - the story is told in the third person - is the zero point of their radical departure from the typical way of writing songs of the time (e.g. "Hello Little Girl"). One small step for the Beatles, one large step for mankind. You can trace the trajectory directly from "She Loves You" to the perfection that is the 2nd side of Abbey Road, through all the other moments of sublime brilliance, intuition, inspiration and world-changing innovation in between. They channelled the muse, man.
  • it captures the essence of the screaming, fainting and unprecedented bizarre fan behaviour that was Beatlemania, before it had a name, and while it was still a novelty. On the day of the recording session, a swollen gaggle of fans broke through the meagre security in the building, resulting in running and chasing and chaos all through the studio. From this point on, the Beatles increasingly became prisoners of their popularity. But on the day of the recording they had no idea of what craziness was to come. The adrenaline boost caused by the hysteria is evident in the recording: it's pure excitement, itself. 
  • The choice of the word, "yeah", rather than "yes", ignited social upheaval, and shows how plugged in to the zeitgeist of the time the Beatles really were. The phrase will be forever associated with everything to do with the '60s.

On the decoration

The writing on the garment is made of the threads and dregs that come off when a fabric is serged before pre-shrinking (i.e. what normally goes into the garbage) - in this case a c. 1970 green and white polka-dot polyester double-knit, and a pink nylon tricot, of uncertain age, but likely intended for a slip or negligee. These have been stitched over with freehand machine embroidery - a very pleasant way to spend an hour or two.

On the spelling of the decoration

I struggled with the spelling of "yeah" in German. Ja? That didn't sit right. The top waited, unfinished, for weeks, while I dwelled and asked around. Happened to meet the principal of a Vancouver German school, who seems to have a particular interest in how words become appropriated from other languages. I put the question to her, and after thinking out loud for a bit, she emphatically proclaimed the correct spelling to be y-e-a- h. Just as the Beatles refused strong advice to change "yeah" into "yes", they also refused to translate it into "ja" - of course it should be "yeah"! I admire the Beatles for staying true to their instincts way back then. I aspire to be even half as fearless.

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