Ultraviolet

Updated: Mar 17, 2019

I am forty three years old. There is a shirt for sale in the shop where I work. It hangs on the rail and no one wants it. I can’t understand why. I encourage everyone to try it, press it on people with the enthusiasm of a true fan. It is silk, very soft, oversized. When you see the colour you understand why they named it ultraviolet. It is so ultra and violet.


Every time I take the train from Walthamstow to Liverpool street somewhere past Hackney Downs I see a building with a curved wall running close to the tracks. It is painted ultraviolet, deep and intense. When I’m on the train and pass this wall I feel elated.


The more I think about this colour the more connections I discover. Connections that take me gently back down the tracks of my life.


The silk shirt I fell in love with at Gigi's Dressing Room

I am twenty eight and make the move from a rented flat to a home of my own. I buy a cheap pine bed frame and choose to paint it ultraviolet.


I am sixteen and spend the summer away from home in London. I find a pair of dungarees in Covent Garden market. They are made of cotton and dyed ultraviolet. I wear them every day for six weeks without washing them once.


I am thirteen. Six days a week my Dad works hard. When he is at home it is Sunday. Much of the day is consumed by his lie-in. After lunch he says he’ll take me shopping. Unprecedented. Surely my Mum’s idea. We go to Benetton. The pinnacle of girlhood style in 1980-something West Yorkshire.


In the shop Dad asks, would it be okay for him to choose something for me? I nod. We feel awkward. He picks a soft Merino wool jumper with a Peter Pan collar. It’s a bit babyish. It wouldn’t have been my choice. The colour is ultraviolet.


Did I know, Dad asks, that I suit bright colours, just like my mother? That not many people can wear such colours, but people who look like me, dark and distinctive, we can.


I am quiet. I did not know these things. He’s telling me something about myself. He’s letting me know how he sees me. He sees a person who should wear this beautiful colour. So we buy the jumper and that is the start.



At Gigi's Dressing Room we're collecting stories about the things we wear and the significance they take in our lives. If you you'd like to share a story then please email contact@gigisdressingroom.com

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104a Wood Street
Walthamstow
London
E17 3HX
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