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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Rakel

Stories in the Seams

I’m standing in a sea of clothes, shoes and bags. Over the years, I’ve deluded myself into thinking that I’m really good at getting rid of things in my closet that I no longer use. The reality is I shove them in  boxes, relocate them to my basement and forget to do anything with them. Dragging them along on all my moves, yet still somehow neglecting to open the contents. The result? I’ve now emptied 8 cardboard boxes. But something is missing. Where are the two Chanel bags? I find a 9th box and now my basement is rather empty while my guestroom is a gigantic mess. 

Clearly I missed the Marie Kondo boat.

Threads Entangled

There’s a mixture of emotions unboxing all this "stuff". It ranges from frustration that I didn’t get rid of these things as I stopped using them, and now having to make sense of this chaos, to revelling in memories being reactivated, to feeling a sense of shame over the amount of designer handbags, shoes and clothes that have been lying silently in boxes. The site of all this luxury strewn out on my floor, borders on grotesque and excessive…but we’re talking about a collection accumulated over the last 17 years. 

A bedroom full of clothes, shoes and bags.
Guest bedroom - 3 boxes...6 more to go,

I make an instagram story. Part of me finds the mess of my collection comedic, another part wants to advertise that people need to keep an eye out as I’ll be selling pieces at the upcoming flea market in Zurich and online…they all want the damn Chanels. The only two bags I decide I can’t part with yet. 

When I use my bags, I use them. For the last four years, my crossbody Louis Vuitton has been an extension of me when venturing outside. The leather tag where the logo is embossed is now smooth - the logo no longer legible. The two Chanels I pulled out of the last box are battered and bruised. While most people see their handbags go up in value, mine rarely do because I break them in until they’re worn and torn to the extent no one probably gets a thrill out of using them. The appeal of their newness long gone. 

I unearth clothing back from when I was 15. I find a cream Strennese dress I wore for my brother’s bar mitzvah in Gothenburg in 2006. A gorgeous fuchsia Chloé dress I wore on multiple occasions - my last memory being at my sister’s 18th birthday where I would have been 16 - has a huge hole in the fabric. Mice got into our basement in the old family home. Why didn’t I just chuck it instead of sticking it back in a box? And why do I now hang it over my sofa chair and pile other clothes on top of it instead of binning it? A D&G denim skirt hides in the mass of fabric. At this point in my life I can't even get it up over my thighs.

I remove the cobwebs of time from skirts, dresses and tops that I kept, hoping I would squeeze into them again at some point or sell them on. Some of these clothes I wore when I was 15, some when I was 18 and in my early 20s…a body long gone. My healthy mindset gently tells me that it’s time to let go of the body I once had. My toxic side doesn’t want to accept it. 

I find a multicoloured Louis Vuitton bag that a family member bought for me when I was 15 and we were holidaying in Portofino. We’d been in a fight. The big Chanel? Also the result of a fight we had. Some may read that and think “wish that’s what I got when I had a fight”...I’d rather just have been without the fight.

The small Chanel’s leather edges have worn away, revealing white infrastructure the leather was moulded on. The seams have come apart at the opening, the leather scratched and worn around the clasp. I rarely cycle between handbags, I use one until it’s tattered. It was no different with my Chanel. I dragged her out on club nights in London, braving theft with the clasp that was easy to undo and letting her sop up sticky vodka drinks, spilling lipgloss inside her and absorbing pen marks when I ventured to cafes to sit and write. My Chanel was not above any other handbag. She got the same life treatment as all others. I haven’t used my Chanel in probably 10 years. But part of me has a really hard time selling her off to someone. Sentiment has a funny way of making us hold onto things. 

The big Chanel’s tweed on the lower corners have long been worn off. I abused her like every other one of my bags to the extent that the straps could no longer carry the weight and one strap snapped. I was on my way to a music session with my long-term co-writer, when it broke. I showed my co-writer the state of the strap and she whipped out a leather sewing needle and sewed it back into place. I was a little more cautious of how much I shoved into my carrier after that. 

My mum’s designer shoes litter my floor. There’s a white pair of Louis Vuitton sandals that accessorised many of her summer looks for multiple seasons. I sell them for CHF 75 at the flea market, and with it my middle school memories of family holidays in the sun. There’s her gold Gucci peep toe pumps that she wore for many dinner parties. There are Prada shoes that I don’t think she ever wore, all of them pointy. My sister and I attempted to sell all this designer stuff in 2021, making an impromptu photoshoot in my then- apartment. But we never got around to putting any of it online. I “modelled” the shoes and three years later we’re in stitches at the site of my blister decorated feet squeezed into them. But three years later, point formed heels are back in. I’m sure someone will eat up the Prada’s as soon as I post them online. 

A coral Sandro skirt emerges from my “skinny clothes” box and reminds me of a photo of me, 19, beaming while on holiday in Mallorca (I scrolled for over an hour on facebook, but I couldn't find it). A few months later I’d be hospitalised for being clinically depressed. Then there’s a simple black satin dress from Fidellio that I wore to the GQ Man of the Year awards in Berlin. Not my usual stomping ground, but it was one of those weird things where I knew someone who got invited and he invited me. I remember wearing tacky sparkly platforms, getting my hair done at Toni and Guy and my mum very generously letting me wear her fine jewellery. The champagne flowed and I don’t remember most of this bizarre night, but I know I felt fucking fabulous. 

Then there’s all the non-designer clothes dominating the pile on my guest bed and on my sofa. They’re the pieces I’ve used the most. Checked shirts from Asos and Zara that I wore diligently over skinny jeans for years. H&M sundresses that saw me through heat waves. Pieces ordered online that still have their tags because I never bothered returning them. All this non-designer garb tells a truer story of my life over the last few years. They’re the ones that have been part of my most recent journey. Not the dresses from 17 years ago that housed a much smaller body and much less experienced person. 

Tying Up Lose Ends

Garments tell a story. Fun times, sad times, moments in the sun and moments I’d rather forget, are woven into the seams of these bags, shoes and clothes. It’s not the clothes that are hard to discard, it’s the memories they’ve come to represent…and perhaps the greedy illusion that value could once be bestowed back on some of pieces.

After the Zurich flea market, I put all of it back in boxes, not so that I could chuck them back into the basement, but so that I could actually move around my guest room. My goal is to get rid of it all. It’s been nice going down memory lane, but now it’s time for some new memories. Memories that I hope will never ever materialise in the form of 9 cardboard boxes, ever again. 

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Marie Aymon
Marie Aymon
Jun 12

where's the funny feet pic?? ;P

Amanda Rakel
Amanda Rakel
Jun 12
Replying to

Hahahaha! 😂 I didn’t want to traumatize anyone

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