Musician Natalie Haupt tells The Bristol Magazine how creativity healed her family with the help of eco-fashion designer Linda Thomas
It seems to me that creativity only really starts to flow when we have the courage of our own unique way of doing things, whether it be making music, clothes, or photography.
To witness someone at one with their craft and talent in this way is a powerful thing: beyond notes and virtuosity, in that moment they gift us with a piece of their soul at its most inspired.
What makes the cloth of an artist’s work, passion and artistry, lies not only in the development of his talent and the refinement of its execution, but also the endurance of his devotion to the difficult pursuit of making his soul visible. To reveal one’s soul takes a particular courage… When life creatively gets in the way, no musician can do without that courage: it is the power without which his music will be constantly compromised.
When life gives you lemons…
A few years ago, I was myself reminded most cruelly as to how important this dimension of courage is. Following a terribly difficult incident, my piano was damaged to the point of needing several thousands of pounds to be repaired. This proved devastating, not only in financial and practical terms for my career, but also because the injury stretched right into my core identity, my daily practice and my deepest passion – and affected both my daughters.
It is around this devastating time that I met Linda. When I learnt that she was a dressmaker, I spoke to her about my daughter Nina, who since a very young age had shown an exceptional affinity for textiles and fashion: at Kindergarten she would walk up to her little friends’ mums and compliment them on their dresses, making a mental note of sharing with me where they went shopping, so I could check it out! (I am afraid my sense of flair for fashion is fairly primitive). When her Kindergarten teacher decided every child was to make a cloth doll, to her astonishment Nina also produced an entire wardrobe for her doll to enjoy alongside!
“This was no ordinary project. They were going to design and make together a gown for me to wear for my next concert!”
Eager to encourage Nina with her passion and help her through the trauma she had just experienced, Linda agreed to include Nina in her next project, and by the same give her the understanding to appreciate how to design in a sustainable way as, to my embarrassment, I had neglected to share with her the mainstream cruelty of the fashion industry.
Linda, Nina and I then went on a creativity journey together. This was no ordinary project. They were going to design and make together a gown for me to wear for my next concert! A garment made with love and passion, to surround me with the very same as I played. What is giving is also receiving and although Linda offered this project as a kindness to me and my daughter the joy spread between us all.
Following the individual path to creativity
“It has been a delight to design with Nina”, Linda said of her time with my family. “As an independent eco designer I usually spent my time creating on my own, so to watch Nina’s face as we discovered together that a long sleeved, full length concert gown really could be made from a rather short and absurd cocktail dress and two tops, was heart warming.
“I wanted to show her that there are completely different ways of doing things, so that as her creativity blossoms more and more, she finds her own path…”
“Natalie had described for us the key elements of what would make a gown both feel good and be practical at the piano and our mission was to create that. On our first meeting Nina showed me a beautiful bag she had designed and made. I wanted to show her that there are completely different ways of doing things, so that as her creativity blossoms more and more, she finds her own path and doesn’t just follow one that has been trodden before. I cut shapes and then sculpt with them, and that is what I wanted Nina to see.
“It wasn’t practical for us to sew the dress together, so instead we would create and pin up the dress on each visit and I would sew it in between. There is no doubt that I have benefitted greatly from the project, and the pleasure it has brought me to see Nina creating and Natalie wearing the dress at her beloved (now fully restored) piano has been immense. I highly recommend this process of sharing to anyone who normally works in isolation, as it has been full of joy.”
The finished product
I cannot wait to wear this dress in my next concert: made to measure and to specification, it fits like a glove and lets me move freely whilst playing, yet remains elegantly flowing whilst having that characterful originality Linda seems to magic into any garment.
Most importantly, I feel the love, compassion and care it was sewn with, and I know those to be essential nutrients for courage and power. I am deeply grateful to Linda and Nina for the dress they gifted me with and to my eldest daughter Maya and my friend Emir for capturing its beauty during a most enjoyable and intense photo shoot!
All images © Emir Hasham Photography