A long time ago when I had my store Flash Cadilac in Ottawa I had a special friendship between Daniel Richer dit Lafleche our Ontario Town Cryer and his then companion Michelle Cadieux. Through all these years Daniel has remained a close friend, but sadly Michelle passed away and she is a chapter in my book about Flash Cadilac.
Thirty years of my life was devoted to creating “life” out of fabric. There is little documentation online of what I used to do, because the web did not really exist. My designs were not the type of things you would see at Sears, nor did I want them to be. For five consecutive Fridays many years ago, my seamstress Anne and I worked on creating a new “life”. Stitch after stitch, on yard after yard of fabric were painstakingly done, until the Coutesan ivory dress was born.
The Belladonna dress weighed close to forty pounds, and over 144 yards of heavy satin and french lace was used in it’s creation. Under the customer’s direction it was boned to the point of being historically uncomfortable. Cathedral ruffled lined sleeves cascaded with an edge that hit the floor with a thud. A handmade hoop crinoline with padded sides made the skirt immense. The future owner of the dress, Michelle Cadieux, told me she needed a whole room to put the dress on.
The dress was packed carefully to be worn at the International Town Cryer’s Competition at the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom. Her companion, Ottawa’s own, Daniel Richer Dit LaFleche was one of the Town Cryer competitors.
Upon it’s first outing, my name was sworn under her breath, as she had to wait hours to greet Queen Elizabeth II. She said that the “life” was sucked out of her because the dress was so heavy.The Courtesan dress won first prize, but it was Michele, and only Michele wearing that dress, that gave it “life”.
“Life” is a very precious thing isn’t it?
You can have the finest dress in the world, but if you do not have “life”, then what does it matter?
You see, the Belladonna dress has been not been worn again in recent years, as “Ma Belle Michele”, as I used to call her, passed away a few years ago at age 50, from Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. To the memory of “Ma Belle Michele ” and the legacy of her life.