My Favorite...White Dress
Ambra Medda, creative director of L’ArcoBaleno, tells us about this magical "lady boho" summer dress that's been with her so long, it's coming apart at the seams.
Ambra Medda, co-founder and creative director of collectible design online marketplace L’ArcoBaleno, tells us about this magical "lady boho" summer dress that's been with her so long, it's coming apart at the seams.
How did this pretty summer dress come into your life? "My mother gave it to me, and she had found it in a market in Spain. It just hangs perfectly. It's one of those things you steal from your mom's closet and then finally it just sort of became mine, it was just like, 'Okay, this is now mine.' I've worn it every single summer to the point that I'm getting worried about it because it's so fine at this point, so I have to wash it personally––I take really, really good care of it."
What time in your life does it remind you of? "I remember that time when you start venturing into your mother's closet more and more often, and you're like, 'Wow, this is kind of cool!' So it's that turning point when you're young and all of a sudden you think that what your mom is wearing is cool. Before that, it's just embarrassing. She didn't really hand it over; there wasn't, like, a ceremony. My mother's pretty down to earth, and we've always shared things, so it was part of a lot of back and forth."
How long have you had this dress? Sounds like you just started wearing it and wearing it until it made a new home in your closet. "I think I was probably 17, and then I probably took it officially three or four years after that."
What do you love about it? "I feel that when things are well-designed, they last forever and I really value that. It's sort of a patchwork, but first of all, to be completely frank, it looks like a tablecloth! It looks like your grandma had a really nice tablecloth and you took it and made a dress out of it. But the shape of it is quite bohemian, but it's also quite 'lady,' in a way, it's not so funky, there's something sort of 'bohemian lady' about it. It has some transparency to it, which, actually, I very rarely wear anything transparent, it's not my thing at all. But somehow here, the dress is so unique and so elegant––not elegant [as in] formal––but just so 'lady' that I feel at ease wearing transparency, which is very unique. And then it has all of these little embroideries, all this handwork. I'm a big craft lover, so I guess this is just like, 'I get to wear craft.'"
Since you love craft, do you buy a lot of clothing in markets? How do you like to wear these special, unique pieces? "Yeah, I do. And I love mixing them with things that are by known designers, and unknown designers, and I like to mix old vintage pieces and new pieces. I'll buy a dress in Peru or a skirt that's just like some very generic kind of skirt that you find in a Peruvian market, that the women wear there, then wear it with a sandal and an APC T-shirt."
That's a great styling tip. "It's nice to interpret things in your own way. I think that unexpected quality of matching something with something completely different, I love that tension, I find that totally thrilling! Like, something completely uncool with something really cool, or something vintage and sort of old-school with something very modern."
How does that apply to this special dress? "You can't really wear anything on top of it, it's a white, summery dress. I [like to] wear it with a tennis shoe. If it's chilly, you put a big beige chunky oversize cardigan on top."
Since it's been with you for so long, this piece must have seen its share of adventures! Can you share some memorable moments that happened while wearing it? "Well, because it's white, it's done a couple of New Year's, it's one of the things that's always with me, and I tend to escape to warm places for New Year's. So many Greek holidays, breaking down in cars when you're about to get to the beach and fixing a tire, to endless dinners and laughing with friends. Dancing, walking around in Lebanon…[and I remember when my mom] had torn it, so I remember going with her to a tailor in Milan, and her bringing this extra piece of lace to kind of reconnect the top and the bottom!"
When you see the dress hanging in your closet, what's the first thought or feeling that comes to mind? "Happiness and summer. Nobody else has this dress, which feels really special, and my mother handed it down to me. It's so pretty that I'll never tire of it."