That Monday morning I watched her dance thru the quiet outdoor mall with nervous abandonment like a butterfly. Fresh morning dew covered everything in it’s path, and The District was still pretty quiet since none of the other storefronts open until later. It was the first day of Fashion Camp and Kiddo was about to embark on a whole new adventure. She had no idea what to expect, but her mind was filled with great things.
She was headed to Fashion Camp and for the very first time, all of those dresses and frocks that twirled in that pretty little head of hers could very well become a reality. At least that’s what she hoped with all of her might. This was her chance. Her big break. For the first time, her small hands were about to bring her big sketches to life. For the very first time, she would be a real life fashion designer.
For one week over summer break, she would be spending time at Fashion Camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Divided into two different sessions, the morning Design Camp would inspire and teach how to sketch and use you imagination; while in the afternoon, she would attend Sewing 101. But don’t let 101 fool you. Yes, it might be for beginners, and yes it teaches the basics, but it is far from “intro to sewing.” It is legit.
This is where the fun happened. It was the hands on approach where she honed her cutting and sewing skills. It was during this class that she solidified in her mind what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. It was in this class her designs came to life.
I witnessed her make choices and make mistakes and make art. It was simultaneously beautiful and slightly frightening watching her take on this sort of creative independence and be so responsible. She didn’t need my help. And it was the first time she scolded me for trying to capture all of it on video. Sword, meet my heart.
This summer, I watched from the background as pieces of paper pasted to Kiddo’s vision boards manifested into realities. Hopes and dreams went from Vogue magazine tear outs to wearable art. While at Fashion Camp, Kiddo didn’t know the word “impossible” because nothing in her mind was.
Everyday was, “Momma, I’m going to make this dress, with this lace and it has a belt.” I could only imagine what the dress was going to look like based off of scrap fabrics she had sewn and glued together a million times before. But this time, I was wrong. Oh, man, was I dead wrong.
Watching her grab the reigns and discover her strength and weaknesses was magical. She devised plans and sought out the best laid plans to execute creations well beyond something simple.
In just one week, she learned how to pin, cut, sew, and measure. She learned how to use sewing machines and how to iron. In just five days, I watched my child go from designing a t-shirt, to cutting and sewing a skirt, messenger bag and a dress that looks like it belongs in a Vineyard Vines catalog.
In just five days, I watched every cliche and pep talk I have ever given her unfold in front of my very eyes. Fashion Camp gave her confidence and a sense of responsibility that far exceeded the kind she was used. Thanks to Fashion Camp, we both grew up this summer.
Watch out Victoria Beckham…there’s a new Coco in town.
She went from living in a small world where she would take regularly notice of what Taylor Swift and Lenny Kravitz were donning on the red carpets, to comparing herself to the biggest designers in the world. “I wonder if Stella [McCartney] would do this?” and, “Tom Ford would never do that, but Ralph Lauren might.”
All while I was thinking, “Please hold me.”
I watched closely as she experienced a roller coster of emotions that neither of us were prepared for. Her first day of camp she was filled with awe and wonder, the second day the butterflies vanished and she was completely focused; Wednesday she was WIPED OUT; Thursday she was visibly stressed that her project wasn’t going to get done in time for the fashion show; and Friday, she was absolutely glowing with confidence. She’s never been so proud. I’ve never been so proud.
For the first time Kiddo had creative control to curate a capsule collection reflecting her style, her design and her true eye for fashion. It seems like just last week I was watching her mix and match her fashions for her American Girl dolls and now she was rocking an ensemble down the runway that I would buy for her at stores like Crew Cuts or Peek! Aren’t You Curious?
So what did I learn from this week?
I think I’m ready to share her with the world. There were so many times this summer I wanted to bottle my daughter’s happiness. It was always because she discovered something new, fulfilled a dream or achieved a goal. You can’t fake this kind of bliss and self-satisfaction. I’m starting to accept that it’s ok to let go, she’s got this. In fact, much better than I ever did. But I’ll tell you one thing, this kinda sorta 90% helicopter mom will always be close enough away to toss her a life vest.
Every time I think of that week my eyes tear up and I form a lump in my throat. My baby has begun to live her dream. She realized “impossible” is really possible and if you can dream it, you can do it. Life is full of experts telling you, “No,” but this week at Fashion Camp she screamed back at the world, “YES, I CAN!”
Watch out fashion world. There’s a new Coco in town…