Fashion Folklore is a series of interviews where real people unpack how Fashion impacts their life. This is my story.

The first 5 years of my life I spent on a small farm just a few miles away from the front line of the (Yugoslav) war. No toys, cartoons or friends. Just me, my loud family, a dog and a cat. This is a (very) short story about a difficult time, a bored little girl and a polka-dot tutu that changed everything...

Let me set the scene;

I’m 4 years old and I don't know what's scarier; the nights with thunderous lights shooting in the sky or the ones exploding with still silence.

Mom is too busy with keeping the food on the table and dad is on a business trip, is what we say.

We never leave and nobody ever comes here; every day is the same. The cat’s asleep and the dog is stressed out and I have nothing to do. Needless to say, I was perpetually bored.

Eventually, I did what any other kid does when faced with boredom;

I opened up a closet I shouldn’t.

And then I saw her;

tucked between racks of lifeless clothes was a small, baby-blue-coloured and polka-dot covered tutu-skirt in my size. Wow.

I never saw anything like it. I was wonderstruck.

For a wartime kid whose entire wardrobe consisted of hand-me-down and hand-me-ups that were always either too big or too small, the skirt was a revelation.

AI generated art

AI helped me recreate this memory, and mum said that the skirt looks just like the one I wore.

A whole new universe opened up in front of my eyes and mom’s stories about what life could be like finally made sense.

My world at the time was anything but child-friendly, but the skirt was evidence of a reality where kids were thriving and weren’t just trying to stay out of the way.

I don’t remember much after that; the next year was a blur of tutu-dancing and daydreaming about a world I was yet to meet.

At the end of that year, the war ended, but I never forgot the skirt that tethered me to safety.