Thursday, 4 August 2011

The name of the rose

My first name, Rosalind, is derived from Latin, meaning ‘Fair and beautiful rose’. Rosalind is also a character in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, and has been played by actors such as Helena Bonham Carter, Juliet Stevenson and Helen Mirren. The role is best known for requiring cross-dressing as a man – not a trait she and I often share.

My parents chose the name precisely because it was Shakespearean, although it could also refer to Rosalind Russell (an actress), Rosalind Franklin (a chemist), a rural Canadian town or a moon of Uranus. As far as I know, none of these places or people were pivotal in the decision making.
However, it was a second choice. I nearly ended up as a Rosa – until good family friends decided that it would be the name of their baby, born before me. So, it was either Miranda or Rosalind. My parents settled on the latter.

Many of you know me as Roz – a nickname that I seemed to acquire along with my scratchy secondary school uniform at the age of 11. Much like a haircut, my name has been chopped and changed over the years; losing letters and growing them out again. In the past I had been called everything from ‘Rozzie’ to ‘Rose’, before these derivatives were trimmed down to ‘Roz’. This was how friends, family and teachers referred to me, the full version only appearing on formal letters and in the school register.
Some cultures believe that if you know the name of something or someone, then you have power over them. And it must be said, there is a certain power in being able to identify the world around you and make sense of it. This is especially true when we are little. We learn words and their meanings; carefully repeating (and often mangling) them until they are right – and we know what they stand for. Our dear friends’ two year old toddler is currently making his way through this process, and every time we see him he is more articulate!
Although this is an important step towards growing up, there is sometimes a bittersweet side. Once the environment around us becomes finite, then the excitement in the simplest object can be dulled. Once we know what a teapot or a flower is, it can never again be anything other than that.
I talk of naming because I am starting to use my full name, Rosalind, again and am in the process of altering various online profiles. I am still happy to be known as Roz, but I feel I have maybe grown up enough to start inhabiting all three syllables.
This small change has also coincided with a definitive altering of my aspirations. When I first started this blog over two years ago, it was on the basis of loving clothes and wanting to (one day) train as a fashion designer. I left a minimal amount of text under the photos I posted, sometimes with a rather embarrassing sprinkle of smiley faces. Each post was carefully worked out around the outfit, while the writing, like a younger sibling, simply lagged behind.

Several events catalysed my decision to change what I wanted to do with my life, and to some extent, my blog. First there were people I talked to and worked with – who demonstrated the hardships of the industry, and made me re-evaluate whether this path would be for me. Then there was the small fact that I didn’t actually enjoy pattern cutting and sewing, as it made my back ache and I often ended up frustrated. Finally there was the scoliosis – which overtook everything else.
People are often asked about what events they might change in their lives, if they could. Perhaps surprisingly I wouldn’t alter my curved spine. It may have brought a host of problems, but it twisted me into a totally different direction. People might have seen me at my worst while I recovered from surgery, but I saw them all at their absolute best, which was a real privilege. The long winter months spent getting to grips with my new scaffolding spine were also intensely creative. The frustration spurred me on to write, to try to put my experience into words and, like a lepidopterist, pin down the fluttering images in my head.

This new found love of writing – something I had previously considered a gentle hobby – grabbed my ideas for the future by the ankles and shook them upside down. Putting pen to paper (okay, typing away at a computer) is now something I consider seriously as a potential career. I want to pursue it, work hard to develop it, and painstakingly learn the craft.
Funnily enough, I guess this dress perfectly illustrates how much has changed within the last year. I first featured the draped lines here, eager to showcase the piece I had customised at my work experience/ internship at a local fashion company last July. As I circled around the mannequin, pins in mouth, and a vaguely Peter Pilloto inspired silhouette in my head, I had felt that creating beautiful clothes was what I would devote myself to. That changed.

Alongside the passion for words, there is also the photography. Although I am still fascinated by the facets of fashion photography, it is now portraiture that really excites me. Irving Penn, Ida Kar, Hoppe, Horste and Sally Mann all sit on my photography shelf – the pages of their books well-thumbed, the soulful eyes staring out. Like writing, the camera captures and frames fragments of a story.

These photos were taken by my dad on a family walk to a set of hills that are much loved. On the journey, we realised that it was almost a year since we had scrambled over the rocks and picked bilberries among the heather. We were revisiting the same place, hardly changed, but seeing it differently, with a new set of experiences. The place was at once familiar and new. Much like my dress – thrown on that morning. Much like my name, tried on for size and found to be a more comfortable fit.

The hat is second hand (Kangol), as are the shoes, leather bag and ribbed top underneath. The belt is Jaeger from ebay.


Rose said...

I spent much of my childhood as Liz or Lizzie. But when I moved to university I decided that with the fresh start I would revert back to my given name, Elizabeth. From 20 years onwards I have always introduced myself as Elizabeth and most people now call me that, save a few of my old school-friends.

I can relate to the change of career choices too. In my late 20's now and I still keep altering my path. Life is never set in stone! And it is good to adapt.

Anonymous said...

I really love what you've done with the dress, you're very talented!

The Fancy Teacup said...

The way that dress has transformed into something even more lovely (like the journey you have gone through this past year) is remarkable. Your father captured you beautifully.

♥, Jamie

Amoniel said...

I also consider myself a writer, though lately, I've been feeling like maybe that's turning into a facade.

Beautiful dress, by the way.

Closet Fashionista said...

Such an amazing outfit as always! :D
(my grandmothers name was Rosaline, so pretty close, hehe)
You are SUCH a great writer so I think it would be a great career choice! (photography too, but you could do both of those at the same time :D)

The Foolish Aesthete said...

I should have known you were named after the Bard's Rosalind! Strangely enough, because I wanted to hear the "All the world's a stage" monologue, I re-viewed "As You Like It" the night before and watched your namesake weave her comical magic in the forest of Arden. Cross-dressing or not, you continue to weave your magic in Blogland. I am so happy for you to discover your this new tangent! Most people do not ever recognize these forks in the roads.

Michelle Lee said...

amazing looks!

Anonymous said...

I'm in a similar situation - although my birth certifcate says "Alexandra", most other things say "Ally"! And, at 19, I feel as though "Ally" can sometimes be a childish kind of name.
The only problem with introducing myself as "Alexandra", though, is that people assume they can call me "Alex". Which has NEVER been allowed. I have never been, will never be, an "Alex".

Kate said...

I think this is probably my favourite of all your posts, partly because the writing is so full of meaning and obvious care and thought, rather than what lots of people do which is just talking about their outfit.

I had no idea that your name was Rosalind! I always thought that Roz was such an interesting and unusual name, it never occurred to me that it was shortened!

I know what you mean about thinking you love something so much and feeling that is what you want to do in the future and then changing your path for one reason or another. I've done the same about 20 times! In a way I wish I knew what I would like to do in the future but every experience changes something within you and ultimately changes the decisions you make.

Sorry I've rambled on, just one last thing- I love the pose in the third photo, and the draping on that dress is gorgeous!

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Wow, so much to comment on :)
These photos are stunning! Your dad really has an eye for photography!
The dress is absolutely lovely!
It really inspires me how you made this "bad" experience into something "great". Lately I've been feeling really down and I have no scars to show for it, yet I seem to have lost all of my optimism. I wish I could see the world through your eyes!
And last but not least: Your name is beautiful! My mom liked Vanessa because of Vanessa Redgrave and also because it is a type of butterfly. I like that. But throughout my childhood and teenage years nobody ever called me by my full name. Only in recent years have I started introducing my self with my full name. I guess it's part of growing up.

styleeast said...

A great story, Rosalind, and something all of us with shorten-able names can relate to. I was a 'Jennie' all through high school but now it feels strange when people call me that. The setting of these photos is beautiful, I'm envious of how open and peaceful it looks! xx

Rachel said...

You write beautifully, so I've no doubt you could carve yourself a career in that field, and your photos are always lovely too. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing with my life either with vague ideas entering then leaving my head.
Rosalind is a beautiful name. My mum named me Rachel (over Hannah) as the midwife was called Rachel and said no one ever shortened it to Rach. I used to not mind Rach when I was at school as it may me feel that my friends were intimate enough with me to shorten it, but now I think I definitely prefer my entire name!

♥Run With Fashion♥ said...

YOU STYLE SOOO WELL! I also looove your photos too! It's like out of a magazine, as if there's a story behind your outfit ♥
"Like writing, the camera captures and frames fragments of a story". I ABSOLUTELY AGREE! And that is what YOUR PHOTOS DO!♥♥♥♥
I love your dress, Love how it drapes and hangs! You're soo pretty :)
You should go into writing, you write so well. :)

Jessica said...

Lovely outfit!
I'm constantly asked is it Jess or Jessica? I honestly don't mind which. But in serious situations I prefer Jessica. My parents have nick named me 'Jessy bessy'... I don't know why but that is a bit of a family thing :)

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

Anonymous said...

Roz, (or rather, Rosalind, which may I say is such a beautiful name and really suits you), I am SO glad you have written this post. I went through the same transformation with myself and with my blog: when I started it it was with the ambition of being part of the fashion industry, and although I knew I would never be a designer (I can't draw for toffee) I held out a dream of spending my life involved with the designers and the shows in a job of which had no real description. But over time my ideas changed - when I realised that what I loved most was writing. Writing my posts give me a rush, a sense of fulfilment and achievement. Since I changed directions on my blog and widened it out to anything that interests me or I eel strongly about I have felt a new sense of freedom - that I can write about anything I want to.

It doesn't mean that I'm no longer interested in fashion though! On the contrary, I still adore getting dressed and spend hours scouring local charity shops for any little clothing gems. I'd still like to experience working in the industry for a couple of years too. But what my real career ambition is is that of writing - journalism, books, who knows?! I love writing. Not just about fashion, about anything. And it's taken me a long time to realise that I don't have to choose - I don't have to pick which route I want to go down for the rest of my life and stick to it. I can dabble in both my love of fashion and my love of writing. It doesn't mean that I won't ever write about clothes on my blog any more, it means that I won't JUST be writing about clothes. I hope that makes so sense anyway. In a sense, writing my blog helped me to realise that being a writer was what I wanted to be, and that studying English Literature at University was and still is my dream.

As to your full name, it's obviously something you've thought about and I really admire you for starting to use it again. I am the same as you in that friends and teachers call me Alex, as do some family members, but it's only people who are very close to me who call me Alexandra. 'Alex' was a name I was given on entering Secondary School and it seems to have stuck. But I actually really like my full name - it comes from the Greek 'Alexander' meaning 'defender of mankind', and my name is part of me. That's why I use it for my blog - it's who I am.

Your talent for writing and engaging your readers is so immense that I'm so glad you're making the most of it. Sorry for (as usual) leaving a terribly long comment but I really wanted to express my feelings about it.

Have a lovely weekend, your outfit, as usual, suits you completely + the hat is lovely.

Alexandra xx

Natalie Suarez said...

very very cute! :)


Celynne said...

It's crazy how much can change in just the span of a year sometimes.

I really like the hat!

Blue said...

Rosalind, I love what you wrote. Hearing stories of how parents chose our names can be so interesting. Mine had picked out a boys name (SIMON) way before they thought of my name (Sofia) which appparently they picked because it was the name day of Saint Sophie, so they decided to change it a little and give it to the little girl that was born six weeks later.
I also understand how you feel about writing, the more I do it, the more I love it. Making this a living would be heaven.

Fashionistable said...

Rosalind it will be from now on from me until/if you ever change your mind again. I think our names are important too. It is wonderful seeing you develop. I love your writing. You are already far more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. Your Dad has a very different photography style to your Mum. Thank you very much for the 2 lovely comments you have left this week. It would have been good to have had you with us at the festival. Xxxx


Rosalind, what a beautiful name, i'm so happy with what you wrote. I remember the dress when you made it last year and i saw the growth you've been having lately. Personally i enjoy so much reading what you write and the pictures you take, i think you're extremely clever and that you are going to succeed in whatever you consider your path.


ps:i extremely recommend you to buy an analog camera, you are going to enjoy the process a hundred percent more! Just the uncertainty of knowing how the picture will turn out is magical.

the nyanzi report said...

first off, we missed you at the vintage festival you would really have liked it.
i love the story behind your name.

YOANNE B said...

lovely pics and style.

Amelia Grace said...

I love this post. So beautiful, all of it. The pictures, the words, it's almost magical. :)

Gracie said...

such a beautiful location, love the shots!

OrigamiGirl said...

I love the name Rosalind. I agree, names have a great power. Some names roll off the tongue with beauty and sound inspiring -I think your name is one of them, but I'm a sucker for long girls names.

I hope you keep writing and enjoy it because I love reading your posts.

E is for Eleanor said...

I'm an Eleanor, from the Waterbabies and Eleanor Rigby but mostly, my mum says, for Queen Eleanor of Aquitane.

Rosalind is my favourite Shakespearian character, I love her! x

Kirstin Marie said...

I just discovered your blog and I cannot get over how stunning your photography is and how well you write. I'm completely blown away.

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

I'm with you, girl! I know my posts aren't as eloquent as yours (I don't have as much time to write, due to juggling work and college) but likewise I would like to become a writer, preferably in the fashion industry. I've always loved your name by the way! Rosiland is such a flowery, rambling, romantic sound. It reminds me of the Princess Rosemund from the ballet of Sleeping Beauty, and the Shakespearian character as well!

Polka Princess said...

Haven't all our names got some funny story or the other behind them??? But somehow, I feel that Roz suits you beautifully...don't know why, just a feeling... (Do I seem demented???)

About the change in your interest & passions.......well, that's how life moulds us as it goes never know what's around the next turn! What may be absolutely necessary today, may seem frivolous & disposable tomorrow....but I guess we eventually come across our one true love & passion....all the best with sure you'll excel in whatever you choose to follow.... :)

MarieAntoinette said...

Great dress and WOW, you're so beautiful.

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ѕтαrr said...

Your photos are absolutely spectacular, and I am especially partial to the one that depicts the light-dappled forest. It looks exactly like a scene born from my childhood fantasies, though I am sure anywhere, anyplace, can become a fairy-tale backdrop if only one has the eyes to see it.

I, too, have a collection of names, a somewhat burden (but still an honor), that one must keep when two countries are a home to her heart. Most people call me 'Starr' to prevent a case of malfunctioning tongue, but I sometimes prefer to be addressed with my Chinese title, as it is one of the last remnants that tie me to reveries long forgotten.

I congratulate you on setting your path to become a writer. It is true that the wind in one's face can sometimes bring out the true intentions amid her soul, though others may only see a hovering storm-cloud.


Sigrid said...

I love the hills! and Bilberries! :)

As for the pictures; STUNNING!

I am always in awe of how photogenic you are!
I love the dress, and I love the subtle brown lipstick as well as all the brown mixed in with the outfit. It compliments your hair <3

thanks for dropping by my blog! I love when you comment! <3

Love Sigrid


Ginta said...

I love your writing and it's absolutely understandable that you'd pursue it. We live, we experience, we learn and we change our minds, it's just so natural. I wish we could avoid painful moments, I wish we could be spared but the reality is different.

On different note - love your dress! It's so beautiful! And draping is amazing!

It-Blogirls said...

Wow! these pictures are breathtaking! Absolutly love it!

Junaluska said...

My friends used to call me "Bee", but we grew apart as we grew older, and new friends used only my full name.

The same with my career choice - for years and years I wanted to study veterinary medicine. But little by little I discovered I had an artist's soul and could never have a structured job. I also realized a part of me would die if I stopped dancing.

I love portraiture as well as conceptual photography. Actually, a close family friend, Shay McAtee, is a portrait photographer with projects focusing on autistic children and Romanian life. You can see photos here:

Bonnie said...

These photos are totally gorge. The scenery, the photography -- It's all amazing.

I am loving the background of you. This is my first time here, and I already feel like I know you well!
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Natalie Suarez said...

you're so so so beautiful! i love all of your recent posts! xoxooxox

Marissa Joy said...

Great floral dress- love how you layered it! Very earthy!

Meena Dhuga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SabinePsynopsis said...

Dear Rosalind... I love the name, it's classical and has depth, which somehow probably goes well together with your love for writing. I only know your blog as a combination of beautiful pictures and proper texts and I adore it for this. As for our life and career decisions... I feel I need a hundred lives to go after all my interests; I was never able to stay the course for one thing... xo

Lydia said...

Your given name is gorgeous, but I do like the uniqueness of Roz. Rosalind is just such a classic name. I have never had a nickname, maybe a few short-lived nicknames friends gave me that had nothing to do with my real name and didn't last very long. I've always like the idea of going by your full first name anyway, versus shortening them. Michael, William, Catherine versus Mike, Will, Cathy. The originals are just so much more elegant.

Anonymous said...

wow what stunning photographs.

Anonymous said...

love this dress and i love reading you!

bonita said...

~ * ♥ * ~

I love reading your post Rosalind ~ I have done close to the same thing with my name. When I was younger {about 10 I think} I decided I wanted to be called Boni rather than Bonita, mostly because Australian accents turned my name into Benita. Emphasis on the 'Ben' which I didn't like at all!

However, now that I am older, I almost feel like I have somehow 'grown' into my name and I think that somehow other people would call me correctly by Bonita, rather than Benita now. Interesting isn't it?

bonita of Depict This!
~ * ♥ * ~

Raez said...

Hey love, I realize I haven't commented on this amazing post of yours yet, so here I go!

I definitely think Roz is a unique name that really packs a cool punch when you hear it, but I also think that although your name is what you were given and what other people sometimes make it to be (in this case, childhood nick names) it is ultimately what YOU are identified with and what YOU decide it to be! I guess what I'm saying is that it's great that you're deciding to "take back" your name after years of being Roz. I also think Rosalind is a very pretty and elegant name that suits your style and aesthetic very well, if not better.

So although I'll miss the spunky name Roz, I welcome the just as spunky, just as stylish and just as well-spoken, yet a little more classical Rosalind with open arms ;)

xx Raez

Hailey said...

The outfit you're wearing is lovely! :D And I really like your hair.

Just found your blog by the way and will continue reading it.

Hailey from

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