Ana S

Premium Writer | London

Ana began her career travelling the world as a journalist. She writes across a range of subjects, including sustainability, activism, fashion and business. Ana's work has been featured in publications such as The Times and the Guardian and she has been a commentator for the BBC, Sky News and Woman’s Hour. She is the author and editor of two books: Three Things to Help Heal the Planet and Comfort Zones, a collection of stories by women writers. Ana loves swimming, tennis and verbs.
As a StoryTerrace writer, Ana interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below

Irene and her Love of Clothes

My Barbie was always the best dressed. Unlike my friends’ dolls, she had a stylist: my grandmother. Irene was a seamstress and ran her couture business from home in a converted garage. Growing up in Brazil, my sister and I would mingle with her all-female staff - listening to their gossip, joining in the raucous laughter and hiding under the sewing machines. With the fabric scraps of her clients’ dresses, Irene would create extravagant miniature versions for our dolls.

These weren’t loose-fitting tunics; I wouldn’t be surprised if they were cut from a pattern. Subtle sweetheart necklines and full skirts. Structured, longline ball gowns with frill trims. Bias-cut maxis, all finished with such precision that they’d never fit a Sindy doll.

Irene’s love of clothes extended to her own wardrobe. Every year, she’d treat herself to a new skirt and my grandad would mark its debut with trademark theatrics. He’d announce Irene to us, who would slowly walk down the “catwalk” - a marbled staircase to the living room - throwing back her Elnett-sprayed head in a cackle of laughter, her face brilliantly made-up.

I continued to play with dolls far longer than my friends, in secret, grateful for the excuse of a younger sister. That I went on to become a fashion journalist could be pure coincidence, but I like to entertain the idea that there is a connection between my childhood and early career choice: clothes and stories, but with different characters and narratives.

When my relationship with the fashion industry became fractious - the impact of many brands on our planet and the people who make our clothes is not sustainable - it was the memory of Irene that came to my rescue.

I doubt the motivation behind Irene’s considered purchases and handmade dolls’ clothes was an ethical one. She loved stuff. Take her to a gift shop and you wouldn’t see her for hours. A glass cabinet in her living room was filled with useless ornaments, collected over many years. But she had an appreciation for beauty and an understanding of craft.

Irene cherished what she bought and made; nothing was disposable because she knew what it took to make a well-cut dress.

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