In some prisons, freedom has the scent of hot bread and rolls right-out of the oven, or just printed paper, a hot ricotta cheese, red wine, a bag of recycled PVC, or an organic cotton shirt with a slogan "Hard"... these are the extraordinary projects of working "inside" prison.
I have a job that is worth knowing and that’s in prison. While working on another project and eager to create a value for my apprentices; moved by their desire to realize a garment to demonstrate the magnitude of acquiring professional skills in the workplace and simultaneously maintaining value to young students of The Oliver Twist School specializing in textile design, in developing interpersonal relationships together with prisoners acting the part as “client/designers” and students acting as “textile suppliers.
I was faced with many challenges from start to finish [for reason that there were people opposed to this venture and our success], it gives me an enormous, joyous heart-felt pleasure to say on May 27, 2011 in the city of Como, my dressmaking and tailoring class presented their extraordinary prèt-a-porter collection “Dreams” (outside of the prison walls and far away from the sounds of heavy clanging-clanking keys, of course!) as a final event for this difficult and extraordinary project, entitled “Trame di Libertà” (“The fabric of Liberty”) and in collaboration with The Oliver Twist School ‘s fourth year graduating textile design class.
This project has many positive consequences for young textile students entering into a hard place like prison; offering a complete educational experience as if they were working for a true couture house of fashion “presenting and supplying” their fabrics together with the prisoners in the role of designers creating a prè-ta-porter collection, contributing to future leaders of the highest level as well as intensifying the working process.
Also involved in this project are companies in the Como area such as Lisa, renown textile company and Jozica Accessories, headed by the designer Carolina, who created a mini collection of necklaces, bracelets and earrings in perfect harmony and complimenting each garment. All of our original design sketches were then developed by Lectra, a highly specialized advanced technical computer program system known by every apparel company in the world, that produced “amazing” results.
So, from baked cookies to fashion in prison lets embark on a virtual “Dreams” fashion presentation, honoring five very talented, courageously determined women, each one expressing their dream to design and structured a garment according to their “own standards of beauty”, plus what would be her “dream outfit” to wear with “dignity” once she was liberated. And this really translates into “empowerment”! They all dreamed and believed..
Magda is from Poland and she dreamed...
“I am content, in peace and never tired or afraid of anything,
when I am sewing. Learning to sew has been always my dream”
Laura is from Peru and she dreamed...
“I imagined wearing my dress to an important event after 5 o’clock.
That is my preferred hour of the day“
Shola is from Nigeria and she dreamed...
“I love things that are pretty and feminine, not only to look at and also to make them.
When I am out of here, I want to learn also the things I do not know”.
Cristina is from Santo Domingo and she dreamed...
“As the teacher was speaking, I imagined this dream outfit in my head”
It will be only for this occasion, but I know it will be beautiful”.
[Cristina truly imagined this complete and beautiful outfit along with the difficulty to achieve it. As we collected information for the technical design of her outfit, I saw how she tried to make herself understood with the little Italian she knew. She did not take for granted the additional corrections as an opportunity learn and through this work, she also learned to behave differently, not only during the dressmaking and tailoring course with her classmates, but also in other times of the day].
Monica's story board
Monica is Italian and she dreamed...
“Fascinated as always by the Arabic world...My ideal came from there.
My dream of going there traveling in this outfit”.
[Monica’s dream has a lot to do with reality. A nice jumpsuit easy to relax or for travel without sacrificing the elegance and the desiring those little details at the wrists, ankles, drawstring waistline and the softy draped pant leg. Monica is a free woman even where she lives, free to realize dreams in her heart and from a concrete source like work. A life no longer in pajamas and with the desire to reclaim her femininity that is not dead, just dormant. “In the future a job like this, may give me satisfaction and also economic opportunity to visit the countries I loves so much. But
this is already a great opportunity to express what's inside.”]
This is another design by Monica and she dreamed...
“I design and realized this dress ,imagining it for myself,
because the cut is ideal for me. I like very much to sew.”
A True Story
Monica was liberated one week before the presention of the “Dreams” collection. She returned to Como on the 27th of May to model her designs and how happy we were to see and hug each other in liberty. I saw her beauty within her through her eyes. A week after that, Monica began a new job she found “herself“, working as an dressmaking apprentice for a world renown fashion house ,“Made in Italy”. She entered presenting herself, her work and literally asked for a second chance.
[Me as myself in a "Love that Red" turban with my textile students
from The Oliver Twist School]
It was also a dream event for me in receiving
highest citations from:
The City of Como for Professional Formation
The Ministry and Department of Justice
The Association Cometa and The Oliver Twist School,
for making it possible the realization of this unbelievable and extraordinary project.
Evening of the event.
Authorities, prisoners, collaborators, families and students together with the fabric of our society all joining hands in a day of freedom.
in my prev
in my prev
post my day My students have given me the most incredible life changing event, because. this is exactly what I have come to experience as their maestra, because education is an experience...teacher and student are learning together.”
[The petite blonde women sitting with the brown pant suit is Dr. Marigrazia Brigoli, director of the prison where I work. As I am writing this post, I must sadly say farewell and send another enormous thank you and appreciation to her, as she will be transferred to another site. She gave me unconditional support as well as instilling trust, and collaboration in my fashion school. Tantissimi auguri e mille grazie dottoressa Brigoli per la sua appoggio].
Ps. To honor the privacy of my apprentices, I decided not to post their photograph.
Have a good week to all and please share your comments and ideas about: Should prisoners work?