When I was growing up, my mom never served eggplant. I always assumed it fell into the category of "too horrible to inflict upon children" which also includes brussel sprouts and lima beans (which were also never served in our house. Perhaps it's fitting that I discovered around the same time that both eggplant and brussel sprouts are delicious. As for lima beans, I am not yet convinced.
One of the main reasons that eggplant fails to inspire as much enthusiasm as chocolate or bread or something equally delectable is its name. Eggplant? That hardly conjures up images of something tasty...instead, some kind of horrible hybrid between an egg and a plant.
I'm convinced that if eggplant was consistenly referred to by its French name, aubergine, then the world would be a better, happier place, filled with more people eating eggplant. It's impossible to not enjoy saying aubergine. Just try it: ohhh--behhhr--geeeennnnnneeee. Such fun!
One of the apppealing parts of an aubergine (no, not the seeds) is its rich, deep colour. I have never really worn purple. It can be a little too abrupt for my tastes, and it brings back memories of tacky dress-up sets (not at our house, naturally, since nearly all our costumes were cut-down versions of formal gowns and real historical costumes). But I find the luscious dark colour of an aubergine to be perfectly lovely.
Perhaps its not surprising, then, what happened to me in Paris during September. I was walking around with a few other girls from the group before our afternoon tea on the Champs-Elysees and we entered a trendy clothing store, Naf Naf. It did not appeal to me right away, as "naf" is British slang for ugly. Then I strolled toward the back of the store and came across a beautiful coat, waiting on the hanger.
Another point about my long-past childhood: I'd always wanted an elegant coat (sometimes refered to as a Samantha coat, a reference to the American Girl doll) but Boston weather required intense snow gear, and fancy coats were not "practical" for Georgia weather. I did receive a very classy peacoat a few years ago for Christmas, but I'd left it at home to conserve space for packing.
Here it was, a princess coat. It had a mandarin collar, a empire waist, pleats at the back, double-breasted button placement, a long skirt, and pockets, so it fulfilled my requirements and then some (a winter coat without pockets is pointless). But I hadn't planned on buying a coat at that point in the semester, so I left it in Naf Naf and went to tea, where I proceeded to talk up the coat. When the others heard how much it cost, they laughed and told me I had to purchase it. So I did. It's been great already, as we've had some very cold days.
Unfortunately, the colour does not show up very well (and my room isn't arranged like a studio, with great lighting, which does not help). But this should give an idea of its overall look.
However, I can't leave well enough alone. As the coat is from a major store, I have seen other girls around town in it as well (I hold no trademark on this coat, alas). So I decided to embellish it a bit, but in a non-permanent way, so that I can change it next year if I like. That ruled out embroidering Russian nesting dolls on the sleeves. Therefore, I found a most delightful little antique shop that had old lace and ribbons where I found some Valenciennes lace and light green silk velvet ribbon. I'm going to add them as cuffs onto the sleeves, just tacking them on for easy removal. Here, I have set the ribbon and the lace against the shoulder, so you can see how the colours all work together.
The main issue with this project is that I have to complete it almost all at one time, since I'm not keen on leaving the house in a coat with pins still in the sleeve (not that I've never done that by accident). But I'm looking forward to making this garment even more like Sara Crewe's second-best coat.