Saturday, December 30, 2017

El Vestido de Raso Azul or The Blue Satin Dress

The Princess of Broglie was painted by Ingres with a blue satin dress of the same shade & cloth -but different style as mine 

Mannequin satin shoes were made in Italy for an American brand. They were very popular in the late 50's
El Vestido de Raso Azul

Living in communist Cuba, age 14 & wondering how our lives would turn out in that sad & cruel regime- my mother found a beautiful piece of blue satin -exactly this color!- and had the neighborhood dressmaker whip me up a short evening dress.

So young -yet so sophisticated. And it was gorgeous!  Miraculously she found a pair of American (made in Italy) “Mannequin” white satin heels and had them dyed the exact hue! (The old store owner even wrapped them in blue tissue paper I remember!) --Thus, The Blue Satin dress -finished and beautiful- hung there, ready to be used one day.   I rehearsed ,wearing it at home once in a while, walking around our living room, feeling so pretty & elegant -so grown up -and wondering when the invitation would come, or the occasion to wear it!

When we finally were allowed to leave Cuba for exile, 5 years had passed -and we were only permitted to take out of the country a suitcase with 3 dresses, 1 coat, 2 pairs of shoes and 1 nightgown. So I tried to “pass” my blue satin dress as a nightgown! We even took out the zipper of the “princess style” dress and put little bows to tie it! The Mannequin shoes were too extravagant (my mother said) since we were allowed only 2 of more 'practical' pairs -and had to stay in my soon to be confiscated (and full of all our possessions) apartment -inside of its blue tissued box. (I have always wondered what happened to them!)

But at least I was taking to Mexico my beautiful dress, which had become my symbol of hope for a new & happy life. I was 19 & had so many dreams to fulfill!    But at Havana Airport the woman officer who checked our bags and counted one by one “the permitted items” was no fool.  And she immediately got very upset & “confiscated” myoffending dress. “No soy idiota compañerita” -she spewed.  Terrified of being denied our departure (as it was a common thing) my mother told her to please keep it, since my daughter “made a mistake”.

And my Vestido de Raso Azul stayed behind.  And now I found this photo of the exact same material & color -and it felt just right to share with you this little story.  This picture has brought back to my memory a zillion feelings. Both sad & happy! And the phrase “recuerda El Vestido de Raso Azul” would become part of our vocabulary between mami and I.

It was almost a symbol of so many things. Mainly Hope!