Helen & Di

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Helen was thirteen years old when she heard the announcement on CBC news that Prince Charles and Princess Diane had officially separated.  Although she had heard rumours of them leading separate lives, the official announcement came as a shock to her. The remaining romanticised dreams of her childhood finally slipped away. Helen loved Princess Diane. She loved her poise, her charm, her fashion sense, along with her attachment to royalty. Her greatest treasure was the six scrapbooks of articles and photographs of Princes Di’s life, that she had lovingly created since the age of seven . It had started in 1987 when a photograph of Diane holding hands with an Aids patient was splashed in magazines around the world. This image captivated her, for some reason she could not fathom, and so she cut the image from the magazine and placed it aside for her first entry into a scrapbook.  The scrapbooks she had accumulated since that first entry contained articles as diverse as visiting hospitals in Nigeria, fashion displays at the Museum of Applied Arts in Hungary and visiting Mother Teresa’s hospice in Kolkata, India.  Her favourite photograph was of Diane alone in front of the Taj Mahal in India. She had devoted one complete scrapbook to commemorate Diana being named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1989. Filling this book with Diane’s sartorial splendor from such fashion designers as Catherine Walker, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Amani, John Galliano and Jimmy Choo. Over the following months Helen absorbed all the lurid details of the aftermath of the separation and some part of her being retreated further into a cold, uncaring space.

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” Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways”.        (Sigmund Freud)

From a very young age Helen was taught by her mother to acquire some emotional discipline so as not to disturb the tranquility of the home. She spent most of her time with her mother as her father travelled frequently on various business ventures and came home to the solace of alcohol and his private study. Crying was frowned upon and various methods were employed by her mother to dispel this weakness. Conversation was not encouraged as “little girls should be seen and not heard”.  In her early years Helen tried to rebel, a voice inside urging her to break free. Around the age of ten she started singing around the house but these outward expressions of exuberance and joy were met with a stern “please be quiet, I’m trying to concentrate”. So Helen would retreat inward ,singing songs in her head and building an internal fantasy life.  She offered a quiet, serious persona to the world but there was a suppressed feeling deep inside her that was continually trying to break free. Her favourite video was George Michael’s “Freedom! 90”. She loved the beat of the song and the glamour of the fashion models portrayed in the video. Her favourite TV program was Beverley Hills 90210 and she avidly followed the personalities and fashion trends of the students of Beverley Hills High.

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Helen loved everything fashion. While following the life of Princess Di she had been introduced to the cult of Sloane Rangers. The exemplar female Sloane Ranger was considered to be Lady Diana Spencer, before marrying the Prince of Wales, when she was a member of the aristocratic Spencer family. However, most Sloanes were not aristocrats and mainly came from the upper-middle class culture. The name Sloane Rangers came from Sloane Square in London and they socialized in the expensive area of West London. Helen had even been able to acquire a copy of the “Official Sloane Rangers Handbook” (published in 1982). She had asked her father to purchase it for her on one of his frequent trips to England. Fashion was a large part of being a Sloane and they had their own distinctive style. In addition to the Sloanes her other role models were the woman who ruled the runways, super models like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. She vowed that one day she would break free from the stifling confines of her home and become a free spirit like Princess Di and set world wide fashion trends while singing to her hearts content.  But then at the age of eighteen she met Jordan.

(to be continued)

 

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