“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
Anaïs Nin, “The Four-Chambered Heart.”
Oddly enough, a “great fear of shallow living” has also been somewhat responsible for the unmanageable size of my closet. Although an obsessive interest on clothes would probably point towards a very shallow living indeed, I have always seen clothes as a way to connect to my true (deep) self even when this self is busy living in imaginary spaces.
I could not have been a famous fashion designer (I’ve played briefly with this idea when I was 17 or 18) as claimed by Ms. Nin but, like her, my problem also seems to be that “my imagination created [and still creates] costumes that did not fit my simple life”. I do love clothes far more than I like fashion. I love their power to “evoke the fairy tale” and I’m still not ready to start “dressing more simply”, I took the first step in putting my Closet of Errors out there not as an exercise on downsizing but as a way of dealing with my own stories and letting the ones that were already lived go and find new lives.
Writing about Anaïs Nin’s “Fractured Identity as Read through Fashion“,Tove Hermanson notes that [she] “grappled with complex self-identity issues that were revealed in her sartorial selections as much as her overtly philosophical prose. It’s unclear if Nin herself realized the extent to which she used fashion to act out her desires: to glamorize herself and seduce, and alternately to conceal and protect herself.” That’s how, I suppose, it all starts. More than a sign of individuality, clothes help to overcome your own insecurities by living the life of the character that more resembles what you have dreamt for yourself.
Someone once told me that I had lots of clothes and a ton of shoes because I didn’t think I was beautiful enough on my own. I remember taking that as an insult. Not anymore. I am now able to have fun with all that I’ve collected everything remains, as Ms. Nin would put it ” very symbolical” and my clothes still have “first of all, a poetic significance: colours for certain occasions, evocations of other styles, countries (Spanish flavour, Moroccan touches, etc.)” and are, of course “a sign of individuality”. More than I would probably like to admit, I still “[want] striking clothes which [distinguish] me from other women. “
When I was growing up Anaïs was just the name of a Cacharel perfume that I was lucky enough to have my mum buy for me. I still recall the ethereal commercial on TV that made you dream of becoming this wonderfully romantic creature. Today, after actually having read some of the diaries, I still see Anaïs as this unattainable ideal of being both the author and the character.
The Diary of Anaïs Nin Volume One 1931-1934