Last week, my family and I laid my aunt Darlene to rest and it was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve endured since 2014! My aunt was like part mother, part Auntie, a mentor, and a little bit of a homegirl all rolled into 1! She was an amazing person! Kind, funny, wise, resourceful, giving, humble, fashionable, and sooooo much more!
She was beauty personified! The epitome of a lady! Classy, elegant, and everything heaven sent!
When I decided to explore more of the sewing and designing aspect of fashion, it was my aunt who was my number 1 cheerleader! Due to her being a fashionista in her own right and having some skills behind the sewing machine, she was thrilled when I approached her about sewing. From taking time to teach me about patterns to gifting me with my 2nd sewing machine, Dar (which we all affectionately called her) was always so readily available to listen and give her support. She thought every ensemble I made was beautiful even if I thought it was absolutely terrible or was too insecure to admit to people that I created it. It became a habit to seek her stamp of approval when it came to my garments even though deep down in my gut I truly loved them myself and knew that what I had was a gift from God that just needed more practice. While it took myself a while to realize this, I believe my aunt had known from the very beginning.
Upon my arrival to the hospital when my aunt passed away, I felt so broken for two reasons. One being that I was back grieving the loss of another dear family member after only 4 months of losing my paternal grandmother and the second being that I was losing everything that Aunt Dar was to me. I realized that through all of my growing and learning of designing, I never got a chance to make something special just for her…..something that showed my love and appreciation for her and the wealth of knowledge she gave. But within minutes of that instant sadness, I had come up with a solution. I knew that whatever I wore to the funeral that it had to be an original piece to honor my aunt! It had to be something she loved, and I knew she would definitely approve of! It wasn’t velvet or patent leather though LOL (my aunt LOOOOOOOOOOOVED velvet and patent leather shoes and handbags) but it was one of my original dresses which she loved on me……plus I wore pearls; Dar loved pearls too!
Her love, spirit, and all the encouragement she gave me as a young black woman, fashion enthusiast, and an inspiring designer will forever live through me and my garments. Rest in love Aunt Dar!!!