How to live a meaningful life, according to Frankl
Literary style inspiration: The Magic Mountain
How to live a better life, according to Ray Bradbury
Always look up: Learning how to wonder
Rolling with James Joyce on an Irish hill
Ode to the bookish girls
Tea with Frances Towers
About Madeliene Rose
In awe of the beauty and horror found in both fashion and literature, I want to tell you stories inspired by fashion editorials, by the writers of the past and by some unforgettable literary characters.
But before that, you can read the introduction below to learn how I became Madeliene Rose thanks to one unforgettable daydream…
I first saw Madeliene Rose when she was walking towards the piazza with a small paper bag in one hand and her other hand holding her short dress from being blown by the wind. It was a pale blue silk number, matching the light blue vein on the right side of her brow; a dress that fuelled her paleness, adding only a tinge of colour to her thin frame. She donned the one piece — held by fabric-covered buttons under her chest and gathered fabric on her shoulders carrying the long sleeves — with a necklace that looked almost as heavy as her.
Her dark red hair was up in a messy chignon and she wasn’t wearing makeup, except for her lashes, which had been skimmed with a mascara brush. She had an uncommon face, with dark, thick eyebrows that framed her facial bone structure and rendered it inexplicable, and addictive, to those who perceived her on that autumnal afternoon.
Stepping on the cobble stone pavement wearing velvet smoking slippers, she walked towards the benches facing the sea. Unaware of the men and women who had rested their eyes on her, she stopped to look for a bench she could sit on, and found one near the centre of the piazza. As she sat, she took out a croissant from the small bag — “dining al fresco,” she would later tell me, as I learn how every day she must have one meal outside.
Despite there being no more benches available, workers from the nearby offices, who were gathering in the piazza to have their lunch, do not ask whether they can share the bench, although there was enough space for three more people; choosing to stand, watching her from afar. I was suffering from soggy sandwich syndrome — another failed attempt to making my lunch for work — so two hands and two laps were required to handle the pathetic situation of my sandwich.
She looked like a dream. She was unself-conscious — graceful, sitting up straight and looking at the clouds seemingly for the first time while eating her croissant. I don’t know why I moved towards her, I could have leaned on the bird-poop stained fence and had my lunch there, it was an appropriate setting for my sandwich, but I wanted to be near her.
“Do you mind if I sit here?”
As she caught my gaze, I felt this woman was everything, except frail. Raising her hand, giving me a peek at her nude nails, she gestured for me to sit down.
“Thanks, I find it hard to eat lunch while juggling my phone and my tea.”
She looked at me again, and smiled, then turned back to the sky.
“Lunch comes around to look at the clouds.”
She looked into my eyes when she said this but I couldn’t hold her gaze for too long, so I kept going from my sandwich to the clouds, stealing small doses of her throughout my rambling about pending emails, quick bites and exhaustion. I could not stop talking, gesturing and playing with my sandwich while she sat motionless, half eaten croissant in her hand, still gazing at me. I stopped, finally, and braved the coming awkwardness — the woman hadn’t nodded or mhmm-ed once at anything I had said. I looked at my lunch; a fly had found it appealing and rested on it.
This is how Madeliene Rose determined how we ought to spend our time together. She would always start her stories in this manner, whenever she and I met. I never rambled again, not with her at least. I would watch her become animated and I would absorb the things she would recount, whatever she chose to disclose. I knew a day would come when I would never see her again; a time when these stories would be the only things left of hers, so transcribing them here is the only way I can hold on to the memories of this rose.