I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to write about My Mother’s Clothes, a wonderful book by my friend Jeanette Montgomery Barron. The only excuse I have is that it came out right before I started my blog. But this evening was the last night of a show of photographs from the book, at Bomba, in Rome and so it seems the right time to talk about it. While it’s too late for you to see the show (which was beautiful) you can still enjoy the book.
The book is exactly what the title says: photographs of Jeanette’s mother’s clothes. As her mother was slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, Jeanette began to photograph her cherished wardrobe. She used these images as a way to reconnect with her mother and with her quickly fading past. The vivid still lifes would spark memories that lay hidden, bringing together mother and daughter one last time.
I had the great luck to follow Jeanette on her path as she photographed the shoes, dresses, coats and even empty perfume bottles her mother had saved over the years. She brought suitcases with her back to to Rome after her visits with her mother in Atlanta. I saw the clothes as they lay lifeless on the couch or bed, then transformed by Jeanette’s lens and eye into the moving portraits that capture her mother the way nothing else could.
When I saw the show today it was like seeing old friends. Partly because I have poured over the book so often. Each time I saw a print hanging on the wall it seemed almost as if I was seeing a familiar piece of clothing from my own history. But there was also another reason they seemed so familiar. Although my mother had a completely different wardrobe – and is still very much alive – she lived in the same era. As I walked through the show I could almost smell the scent of Norell that filled the house – over forty years ago – as she got dressed to go out.
My Mother’s Clothes
Jeanette Montgomery Barron
All of the above photos are by Jeanette Montgomery Barron.