As I stepped out into Piazza di Spagna, the sunshine, the space, and the fashion labels all hit me full in the face, like long lost friends. I searched eagerly for the first sighting of my friend, who I had come to meet, and there she was. Dolce & Gabbana, almost directly opposite the metro exit, across the Piazza. Panting slightly in anticipation, my gaze swept along to the left, she was there too! Missoni, and further left still, Christian Dior. The Mecca. The haven of Haute Couture, and all that is lovely and beautiful in the world. Pretty colours, pretty shapes, pretty materials, pretty things, pretty objects.
I stumbled towards it, drawn like prey. To quote popular vampire mythology, I had been “glamoured”. By the time I reached the windows I had fixed my sunglasses on, so was moving less like a stumbling deer caught in head lights, and had manovered myself so that the wind was blowing my hair out of my face in a Farrah Fawcet type movement, not whipping it into my eyes. I moved confidently forward around the perimeter of the shop. Not randomly taking it all in like a tourist, but starting at my left and inching methodically along. Taking in the full view of what the Dior windows had to offer.
I gazed long and deep, drinking at the well of John Galliano, head designer at the House of Dior. A well that never runs dry. It was like being in a holy place. I was in the presence of God, of beauty, of genius, of femininity, of creativity, of pure joy and purposelessness. I felt the prayers coming. Forgive me for I have had fearful and depressing thoughts. I have not appreciated the joy and beauty that life has to offer. I have let my fear pull me down and focus on the negative, on the lack, on the hardness, unfairness, and pain in life. I have thought only about the bad and negative things.
And there they all were, appearing slowly before my re-focussing eyes, as I looked up and along the street. Gucci, Prada, Bulgari, Hermes, Armani, La Perla, Ferragamo, Vuitton, Versace, Max Mara, Alberta Ferrara and Valentino. All coming out to welcome me home. I glided down the Via Condotti, Rome’s most fashionable shopping street, nodding to each one of my welcomers, escounced on either side by their beauty, craftsmanship and design. Their existence and their wares giving my mind and soul a visual feast of luxury, pleasing aesthetics, and the good, nice, soft things in life.
I was tumbled and caressed by them as I careened from one side of the narrow street to the other, not needing to go in, not needing to buy, just needing to know that they were there, whenever I needed them to be. There to remind me that the world consists not only of starving and diseased children, of power hungry dictators, of incompetent bureaucrats, and of burnt out humanitarians. But that it also consists of beautiful glassware, glittering jewels, delicately painted scarves, and fantastic fabrics. All evidence that we are capable of making great beauty, producing joy, as well as inflicting suffering on one another.