I was delighted but a bit embarrassed when I got the call saying I was through to the finals of the Inspirational Woman of the Year category at the Venus Awards in London. I know lots of women who are far, far more deserving! But delight won out and I booked my tickets for the ceremony and looked at the dress code – “Black Tie”. Gaily, I sprang towards my wardrobe to search through the delights within: hiking trousers in many states of disrepair and a host of fleeces winked back at me; a pair of leather shorts (don’t ask) beckoned; several tattered T shirts begged for attention…. but Black Tie was there none. What would Cinderella wear to the ball?
Then, Mushmina” flashed into my head, accompanied by the faint sound of angels singing. I had come across Mushmina a couple of years earlier when I’d gone to a trunk sale at a friend’s house and splurged on a scarf, bag and earrings. The company, based in Morocco, was set up by two sisters: Katie and Heather, and make beautiful fashion with an ethical heart.
I called up Heather and explained that this Cinderella was in desperate need of a Fairy Godmother. “You won’t believe it,” she said. “Katie and I were fabric hunting in Casablanca yesterday and we found this Goddess fabric and knew it had to be made into something special.” Magic was clearly in the air.
A few days later Heather and Katie and I met in a village just outside Asni in the Atlas Mountains at the Eve Branson Foundation who were going to help with the outfit. First of all we ate couscous with Barbara, who has been overseeing the foundation and then we headed down to meet Rachid, the tailor, and the seamstresses.
Out spilled metres of silky Goddess material, covered in constellations and zodiac signs and right there, Katie sketched out my outfit. She may as well have waved a wand.
Katie had gone for a Studio 54 vibe. Retro chic with a Goddess twist and some Moroccan sparkle – a little cape to be embellished with Berber sequins and embroidery. Rachid and the seamstresses got to work and I flew off to Kathmandu to run the Everest Trail Race
Three weeks later, and I swapped the usual sweaty lycra for my silky jumpsuit. Hair, make up… I even painted my toenails. Time for a transformation.
I loved my outfit and felt like a million dollars but more than that I loved the fact that it was made with flair and skill by Mushmina, Rachid and his seamstresses from the Eve Branson Foundation high in the Atlas Mountains. I didn’t win the award or meet Prince Charming, but I had my night at the ball and that was more than enough for me.