The Tailor

Tonight Arabella and I are driving to Liverpool in Sydney’s South-West where we have an appointment with the tailor who is making her  formal dress.  I don’t really like going to Liverpool, mostly because I don’t know how to get there and I’m very likely to end up lost and because it can take between 45 minutes and three hours to get there depending on traffic.  On a Friday night you can expect bad traffic.

Ralph Lauren

And it would be very easy to wonder why it is I am doing all this given there is a perfectly good (as in brand new and unworn) Sass and Bide dress hanging in Arabella’s wardrobe that would be perfect for her formal (and we did in fact buy it for her formal), and even if I did concede to letting her have a new dress made, there are plenty of tailors in my suburb and engaging one of them would spare me a drive to Liverpool.

But the tailor in Liverpool has a story.

He was born in Iran and grew up to become a champion gymnast.  When his gymnastics career ended he became a tailor and pattern maker, married and had two children.  Politically, Iran was changing rapidly as Muslim Extremists took over the country.  It became compulsory to be a Muslim and there was zero tolerance towards every other religion.  The tailor and 13 others disagreed with some changes being introduced by the Local Government.  As a punishment and as a warning to others to not challenge the oppression being brought in, the 14 of them were arrested and lined up in front of a firing squad.  Bullets were fired but they were blanks.  One of the 14 had a heart attack and died.  After the firing squad episode the tailor was charged with ‘aiding a political dissident’ and sent to prison to four years.

In jail he was tortured and put in a concrete box that was not long enough for him to lie down and not high enough for him to stand up.  He spent three months in this box in solitary confinement in temperatures that soared and plummeted.  After being in the box he spent four years in jail.  After three years he was allowed day-leave once every few months.  On one of these occasions an acquaintance hid him in the boot of his car and drove him into Turkey.  He lived in Turkey for a few years but was in permanent fear of being found and deported to Iran.  He became a refugee and several years later was granted residency in Australia.

Shortly after arriving here the tailor met Carl.  Carl has been trying to help him set up a business in tailoring, repairs, pattern making and leather goods.  So when Arabella asked me if it would be okay for the tailor to make her a new formal dress, all I could think was how wonderful it would be to be able to give this man, who has endured such immense challenges, a little bit of assistance.

Yesterday Arabella and I bought the fabric at Tessuti Fabrics.  It’s a beautiful light pink silk and she is very excited.  We have downloaded the photos of the dress from the internet and somehow, the tailor will recreate that vision.  I have no idea how he will do it.  I wouldn’t know where to start.  But as challenging as this may be, compared with all he has been through, this must seem a very minor challenge indeed.

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  1. What a survivor, Charlie! The dress is absolutely gorgeous, I  hope he does a wonderful job reproducing it. And I LOVE Tessuti Fabrics!

  2. What a story. I’m going to be thinking about the Tailor and all he went through while I go about my free and easy life today.
    I’m happy that you are having him make the dress for Arabella. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out. 

  3. Oh my gosh … what a story!  I got the chills.  Something like that makes everything else just fall into perspective, doesn’t it.  You are right; the dress will be no challenge at all.  It will look beautiful, as will Arabella. Thank you for sharing.  

  4. What an incredible story, it really makes one appreciate how lucky we have it here. I know I have said it before, but your life is so full of such colourful characters, you really HAVE to write a book one day. xx

  5. Mary @ says:

    Oooo. Some of my wedding dress fabric was from tessuti. I’m looking forward to seeing this amazing man’s finished product.

  6. It’s so nice of you to help out this tailor-in-need! I can’t wait to see how the dress turns out!  

  7. Yes, I’d go with the tailor option as well.

  8. Pure Complex says:

    If the fabric is similar to the one in the photo… I think it looks amazing

  9. I couldn’t imagine living in such a country as your tailor did. Was his family able to follow him to Australia? I do hope so.
    Arabella is one lucky young woman. I can hardly wait to see the finished dress.
    Did you have a cocktail when you got home after that long drive?

  10. Oh, man … What a story … Can’t wait to see what this tailor whips up … I’ll bet it’s gonna be gorgeous 🙂

  11. Tailor option are always the best deal as every dress needs a little personal touch up to look perfect!!
    I am sure it will look beautiful!!

  12. What an amazing and utterly touching story.  I, too, am glad you are driving so far to give him the business.  The dress is gorgeous.  I had a tailor in the Middle East who could copy anything–it was like a miracle!  

  13. Green Dragonette says:


    Hi Charlie,

    What a wonderful story and I do hope the finished dress is
    fantastic! Your daughter is one very lucky girl to have you as a mum!!

  14. What a great story and what a great thing you’re doing for him 🙂

  15. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    What an ordeal to have gone through. I hope this dress leads to future business for him. 

  16. Choc Chip Uru says:

    This man must have solid determination – what an ordeal!
    I wanted to have my formal dress made for year 12, maybe I will go to him too… 🙂
    Can’t wait to see the finished result!


  17. What a wonderful story of a man’s triumph over adversity. I hope he makes a wonderful dress which will be the start of a new and flourishing career in Australia. You didn’t mention if he was reunited with his wife and children … I hope so.

    Good luck to Arabella on the new dress.

  18. Juliet Batten says:

    Sounds great to support this man. Hope it all turns out well – the dress is very elegant.

  19. When I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee I hired a woman who’d been through something similar.  Her husband hadn’t survived jail.  Mehri taught me to cook all sorts of Persian food and when she finally remarried, she stopped wearing her scarf. 

     I can’t wait to see the tailor’s finished product.  Your daughter is beautiful and I’m sure the result will be stunning.

  20. Sounds so beautiful and so exciting too… Thank you dear Charlie for sharing with us, I can’t wait to see too, Love, nia 

  21. What an amazing story. I can’t even begin to imagine what that man has been through. How wonderful that he’s making a life for himself in Australia. I can’t wait to see the dress! 

  22. Think you are absolutely doing the right thing. What a story the poor man has, hope he has a happy ending.

  23. Yes I’d drive three hours across Sydney on a Friday night to have this man make a dress for me. What a tragic tale.

  24. ChgoJohn says:

    How some find the strength to survive such horrible treatment is beyond me. I’m sure that Arabella’s dress will be wonderful and I hope it leads to more business for the man. 

  25. Holy smokes. Even though these are the stories I hear in the course of my work, it still jabs into my heart every time. What a courageous man.

  26. That is indeed a story. What a background – I can understand your desire to meet him. Perhaps there is a silver lining to the unnecessary second dress and horrendous drive?!

  27. Gretchen says:

    WOW.  I’d have driven to him, too!!!

  28. InTolerant Chef says:

    We really take so much for granted, don’t we. What an amazing man, and fancy having the courage to face life every day, he must have wanted to give up so many times. I hope he prospers and gets all the dress orders he can handle.

  29. Oh my gosh…that’s so horrible for them to do that to him 🙁 i mean he wasn’t able to stand or lie down he must have just been squatting all that time >_< i feel so sorry for him! I think we really need to be grateful for all that we have here in Australia 🙂 I think we have a wonderful government and I'm glad that he's now living here ~ and good on Carl for helping him! I'm sure he's gonna make Arabella a wonderful dress 😀 

  30. What a harrowing story, Charlie! Really! We would have to live under rocks not to know that this type of cruelty and political oppression exists, but to personally know someone who has suffered like this must be very sobering. I’m sure you easily keep his story and the stress of a teenaged daughter’s fashion sensibilities quite separate, and it is good to hear about both. I hope that if Carl is successful in helping this dear man you’ll be able to share some of that with us. And as for Arabella’s fashion escapades, I’m hooked! 🙂 Debra

  31. What courage this tailor must have had to endure so much. Thank you for sharing this incredibly touching story.

  32. A lovely story Charlie. I did initially wonder why you were having a dress made when I remember you had bought one…..I must have missed a day or two in between. I cant wait to see what it looks like and how Arabella will react!!


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