This morning, I buried my mother’s ashes at Bingley cemetery.
Now don’t worry – this blog is not going to be a dour missive, penned between racking sobs, tears cascading over my Dell keyboard.
It’s a tribute to an incredible woman whose love of clothing is probably one of the reasons why I got into tailoring in the first place.
Here she is, in all her glamorous, absolutely-fabulous glory.
Clothes were without doubt, one of her many passions, and her sense of style was undeniable.
Flamboyant, confident, here was a lady who wasn’t afraid to turn heads.
She’d return from business trips with my father to Rome, laden with the most outrageous clothing for my brother and I.
Believe me, there weren’t many Bradford lads in the late 70’s, kitted out in matching gold silk and wool three piece suits, tweed overcoats and deerstalker hats.
My friend, Paul Flynn, at my wedding, humorously announced that I’d been getting dressed by my mother all my life, and to be fair, he’s not far wrong!
My love of clothes was sparked from an early age when she bought me my first blazer and chinos from ‘Henry Smiths’ in Shipley.
As I hit my late teens, the credit card abuse escalated further and involved Christmas shopping trips to Harvey Nichols in Leeds – Prada shoes, Gucci jeans were all on the menu – and she’d return from trips to Paris with Hermes ties and belts.
My mother was a wonderful cook and hostess whose dinner parties were legendary.
Roasted wood pigeon would be presented on silver platters adorned with peacock feathers, the table awash with candles, freshly cut flowers and starched linen.
In bespoke tailoring, there is a certain degree of theatre requited to create a truly memorable experience, and her ability to set the stage and ‘put on a show’ was a gift I believe I have inherited.
She’d love to be the centre of attention, a born story-teller with a wicked sense of humour, whose generosity of spirit and enthusiasm was infectious.
Having run my own business for nearly fourteen years, I attribute much of my relative success down to her (and my father’s) never ending support. The values they instilled in me as a child for working hard and treating people as you’d wish to be treated, have been invaluable.
If there was one thing in particular, that I feel was most special about my mother, it would be her energy. What she packed into a day at seventy two years of age, would leave many a forty-something gasping for breath.
As I continue to run up and down the steps of my shop, six days a week, doing everything in my power to give my customers not just a great suit, but an outstanding experience, I’ll try and channel some of that relentless energy and inherent desire to bring joy and happiness to others.
Jill Michelsberg gave of herself like no other – the baton has now been passed on to me to ensure the name Michelsberg is synonymous with style, service and living life to the full!