"This Girl Made All of Her Clothes For An Entire Year" Introduction by Jillian Barreca


My friend Jillian sent me a poignant article detailing the story of Lydia Higginson. I asked her to write a short introduction to the article before posting it here. Lydia's story of resilience is so unique, I want to give the respect that her journey deserves. 
 
TW: sexual assault
"It is incredibly hard to write an introduction to Lydia Higginson's story. Words seem to pale in comparison to what she has experienced. After being sexually assaulted in her home, Lydia set out on a mission to throw away all store-bought clothes and create her own from scratch. Making and wearing sustainable clothing helped her reclaim her body. Throughout her journey as a self-taught seamstress, she learned to start processing her trauma and embrace all imperfections."
- Jillian Barreca
 
In Lydia's own words: 

"Almost five years ago, in a very beautiful land a long way from home my body was taken from me. The house where I was living was broken into by a gang of robbers, who stripped me at gun point and sexually assaulted me. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. As I lay there face down, naked on the floor with the end of a gun pressed into my back, my mind completely disconnected from my physical form.  
 
That moment replays over and over in my head. Last year I decided enough was enough, I needed to do something to help me process what had happened. Rather than just relive it, I needed to move through it. I needed to face the fear I had of being forced to give up my body. So I set myself this challenge, to give away all of my clothes. It may sound crazy but it made sense to me that if I could reclaim my body being stripped bare, I would be able to redress myself with a new set of healing armour. I wanted to make my entire wardrobe from scratch; because I thought if I can do that, then I don’t need to be afraid any more. I would have skills and strength which I can always rely on.

This creative mission has made me feel strong and alive. My mind and soul have reconnected with the way my body feels, moves and expresses itself. I suppose this is my small way of fighting back five years later. I’ve allowed my brain to bask in creativity, logic, skill and beauty which makes my head finally feel like it has had some justice for the confused pain it had to drown in, desperately trying to process the trauma of what happened.

Don't get me wrong. This year hasn't fixed everything, I still get shaken up by what happened but the difference is, it no longer holds the same power over me. In a funny sort of way I feel like I have restarted my life, as me. Rather than as someone trying to escape me, which is what I've been doing for the last half a decade. Wearing clothes I have made is the most honest way I have of being in the world and I imagine I'll never go back to buying from shops. In that sense, this project is far from over. I still have a list as long as my arm of things I want to make, including a 3 piece suit, dungarees, a bikini and pyjamas to name a few. But for now I need to step back and take a deep breath, to work on some very exciting commissions.

I have always believed that creativity is a cosmic force which we channel as humans. It is infinite and all we need to do is commit ourselves to delivering it from the divine. This project was really just about connecting with the cosmic in an effort to shine as much light into the darkness as possible."

  • My favorite blog post of Lydia's is available here
  • See all of Lydia's dreamy designs on her instagram here
  • Read Elle UK's profile on Lydia here 
  • Lydia even contributed an article about her love affair with corsets to my favorite slow fashion resource, the Fashion Revolution. Read the online publication, "Loved Clothes Last" here