Stolen Gowns, Stolen Lives

What do Sharon Tate and Amy Winehouse have in common? 

The fate of dying young, beautiful and famous and the theft of their wedding gown posthumously.

Sinister and Sorrowful Endings

The horrible Hollywood murder story of the stunning blonde bride of Roman Polanski has been treated in print and on screen. The last days of the soulful British singer have been documented in film, too.

Curse on the Dress?

Insult to injury: their wedding gowns were stolen under strange circumstances. Yet, can we speak of a curse on a stolen wedding gown?  Unless the person who curses an object is known, this type of curse comes as a punishment for exploiting someone who is dead or vulnerable. The theft of a dead woman’s wedding gown sounds reprehensible. In the case of these two famous women, their pain would seem to continue through the theft. It may be primitive but disturbing the memory of the dead remains a delicate topic.

Curses, not just elaborate insults delivered, have power when you are superstitious. When my gown was stolen, an older woman of Egyptian origin tole me that the dress would be a curse to anyone who wore it. I wondered, though, what if the bride did not know the gown’s history?

In the case of famous brides, the wedding dress has a price tag. In fact,  the minidress Sharon Tate wore when marrying Roman Polanski was scheduled to be auctioned. This makes one think that the thief or thieves may want money, possibly a challenge, but may be avid fan or fans. Charles Manson and his ‘family’ made sure that the beauty below never saw her unborn child. The sixties youthful innocence of this simple black and white photo becomes all the more poignant, given how life turned out for this ‘flowerchild’ bride.

Poignant Old-Fashioned Black and White Portrait


This a blog for Sharon Tate’s family, friends and fans. It will be updated frequently. Please feel free to add comments. “She was a sensational person,” Debra Tate.!

Please be aware that someone out there has stolen Sharon’s wedding dress and mink stole from Debra Tate’s home.  If anyone has ANY information please let us know so I can pass this along to the Official Board, Debra and the police. Debra would just like to get the items back. These items mean so much to her as you can understand why.  Thank you in advance for any information you can deliver.  Please no phony emails, only serious ones.

Note: In 2017 and again in 2019, social media have helped two American brides recover wedding gowns stolen from cars or apartments. Honour among thieves?

Diva and Diana

Remember the French cult classic film, Diva (1981)? No spoiler: A young fan slipped back stage and stole the singer’s costume. Was it a trophy, souvenir or fetish?  He didn’t want to sell it to anyone.

A different saga is the wardrobe of the late Princess Diana.  Her clothing was donated to raise money for her charities. Diana: Her Fashion Story, an exhibition of gowns and suits worn by the Princess, was opened at Kensington Palace in February 2017 as a tribute to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. The exhibition opened on 24 February displaying a collection of 25. Similar smaller shows have travelled to various cities outside the United Kingdom. Legal issues involving inheritance and foundations have not guaranteed the initial success of Diana’s wardrobe exhibit.  Again, the posthumous value may be blurred and may blur the fine intentions of the original wearer or her family. 

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse’s wedding dress was a short, white halter dress with red anchors that she wore to her wedding to Blake Fielder Civil in London (May 2007). Unfortunately, for most of their two-year marriage, Winehouse and Civil lived a life tormented by the paparazzi and drug addiction.

A spokesman for the Amy Winehouse Foundation spoke to Reuters and confirmed Winehouse’s home showed no evidence of a break-in. Instead, insiders believe someone with access to the home and garments stole the newsprint cocktail dress and the wedding dress as they had just been cataloged and stored in the days before the theft.

Amy’s father Mitch was devastated over the theft of the bridal gown. “It’s sickening that someone would steal something in the knowledge of its sentimental value.”


Judging by the Cover

Never judge a book by its cover?!

Recently a major publishing house sent an e-mail asking me to vote on two different proposed book covers for a non-fiction work on financial scams. Clever marketing: Use a focus group to judge a product then market the product to that same group.

Obviously, the publisher knew enough to profile me and chose well, as both author and topic interest me.

Advice abounds on building a platform and knowing your readership.  Key question: Who is your reader?  Answer: Female. Romantic. Curious.

I asked my friend, a graphic artist, to design a mock-up cover for my manuscript One Dress, One Day. Naively, I believed accompanying artwork would make my proposal stand out. I sent mock-up covers to only two publishers. Nothing.

Of course, all the how-to-get-yourself-published advice columns and websites tell you the opposite. Perhaps I was influenced by Céline Dion’s story about how as a teenager, she wrapped her demo cassette with a big red bow then sent it to her future agent and husband, René Angélil. Too enthusiastic? Too late.  A lesson for me.

Fortunately, my artist friend became so involved in the manuscript that she begged for more. As a reader and artist, Joy responded to the drama, setting and pop culture but primarily became fascinated by the characters.  “What happened to the thief?” Joy kept asking me.  “And the baby?” [NO SPOILER ALERT]

At that point, my concept was a short hybrid text, a novellario, but now I am fleshing out my cast of quirky characters.  The thief, his lover, … this sounds like a lush Greenaway film with cannibalism. Rest assured, One Dress One Day resembles Almodóvar’s colourful cinema. A romantic romp in bittersweet Barcelona, circa 1990. Tapas and Sangria plus pop music within one dramatic 24-hour period.

Joy’s professional perspective not only led to the eye-catching illustration seen here but also reminded me to keep telling the story.  Rather like gossip, readers want more…   about the stolen wedding gown ensemble and how it touched the thief, the barmaid, the farmgirl, the blindman, the politician, his wife, the bride and groom plus the middle-age couple.

Here are the mock-ups. Which illustration did I prefer? The cover with a vague romantic couple in the background or the other with a blurb at the bottom of the image?   Flamenco? Taxi? 

Honestly, both covers inspire me to keep chronicling the lives touched by a stolen wedding gown.







From Silent to Soap

My manuscript originally read like a scenario with suggested actors and actresses

As a novel, there are still classical Hollywood references. What follows are quick extracts. The first describes the wedding dress thief, Francisco, startled while talking to Inma. 

“At that moment, Iñaki, the Centenar‘s faithful bartender, came tucking a sports newspaper under his arm. He was exactly ten minutes late and probably had been the one telephoning. Nodding knowingly to Inma, he lit up his second cigarette, the breakfast equivalent, after the day’s first which he lit while still lying in bed. This smoke also served as a signal for the intruder to leave.  Francisco leered like some Rudolf Valentino with a touch of Jack Nicholson but left fast.”

Some characters have a love-hate relationship with soap operas and behave like telenovela stars.  Inma always dresses as if life were a stage. 

“Inma always fell for the bad boys. Listening to the incessant stream of inane game shows on TV, Inma focused enough to fish out her favorite leggings plus her most feminine flowery camisoles in case she stayed the night. […] She zipped up her carry-on, zapped a few channels and paused at a doe-eyed Latina with braids wearing a beige polyester maid’s uniform.  Yet another predictable South American telenovela: luscious palm trees, pastel villas and turquoise swimming pools.  Inma turned the set off abruptly.”



The power of a pair of shoes! We know the feeling. Ever wish you could click three times and be home? Home could also be a psychological home, a good place or a safe place. 

The divine Miss M (Bette for her friends) once said that with the right pair of shoes, she could play any role. Who could forget Judy Garland wearing Dorothy’s ruby slippers?!  The FBI just retrieved them in a scenario worthy of Hollywood. In ONE DRESS, ONEDAY, Inma knows the power of shoes. Hers was an established family in the Spanish leather trade. See extract below photo.

“Honor, like revenge, is a delicacy to be enjoyed cold. Thank God. Inmaculada had little money for much else. The night wind stung her cheeks. Her nerves and fatigue made her feel even colder. Near the María Cristina hotel were jewelry boutiques, chain-link grills rolled down over the window displays full of Hublot and Tag-Heuer posters, Cartier signs plus ROLEX display cards. Solid in her wedge-heel, open-toed leather pumps, Inma began retracing the taxi route back to the station.”

A Short Evocative Title

Dolor y gloria (2019)

A Short Evocative Title, à la Almodóvar    

The director’s Julieta was supposed to be his English-language debut – a sweeping adaptation of the Nobel Prize-winning Canadian author’s work with Meryl Streep. But then, much like an Alice Munro story, life got in the way!

To use a cliché, no problema.

Pedro Almodóvar is getting the band back together. The Spanish filmmaker will reunite with two of his former stars, Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, for Dolor y gloria. The movie ( literal translation: power and glory) becomes his 21st feature film.

Unlike many of Almodóvar’s most famous works, Dolor y gloria  will center around a male protagonist.

The protagonist, played by Antonio Banderas, is a movie director in his twilight years reflecting on his career. Some of the people the retired director recalls are his first loves, his mother, and actors with whom he worked from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The plot details confirmed for Dolor y gloria  might sound like Almodóvar is creating his own version of Federico Fellini’s 8½. The storyline suggests Banderas’ character (Dolor) may resemble that of  Guido Anselmi, played by Marcello Mastroianni in the Fellini film.  Actresses Penélope Cruz and Julieta Serrano play women from Banderas’ past.

Dolor y gloria will mark Banderas’ first Almodóvar feature since 2011’s The Skin I Live In. The actor was a staple of the director’s early career, having starred in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989).  Of course, Cruz has won best actress at Cannes. In fact, she was nominated for an Oscar for her work in the haunting Volver (2006), considered one of Almodóvar’s finest works.

Why Pedro Almodóvar?

As a Canadian translator with some Spanish blood, I have been a fan of this famous cineaste since his first international hit, Mujeres al borde de una crisis de nervios (1988), frequently shortened to Women on the Verge in English. I follow on twitter his film production company El Deseo, now run by his younger brother. I have contacted El Deseo twice and received a polite acknowledgement of receipt at least.  My desire (pun intended) is to be able to meet Pedro Almodóvar someday.  I tried to meet Jean-Paul Gaultier who has created costumes for two of Pedro’s films but failed last year in Montreal.  It is starting to sound like I’m a teenaged fanatic or a stalker, no? I simply would like to discuss my novellario project with him, maybe over tapas! I do dream in colour, as they say. Vivid colour, like Almodóvar’s films.

Again, Why Almodóvar?

Almodóvar’s tales lend life a sense of the uncanny mixed with 
telenovela chic. Casts usually include strong, daring women.  
At times playful, Almodovar’s cinematography corresponds to my vision; i.e., his energetic use of space, shape and colour.
His original choice of music always strikes a chord with me. 
The soundtracks of  his films evoke both the multi-faceted character of Spain and incredible plot twists.
The latest film has reportedly wrapped up filming and is slated to open in 2019.
PROXIMAMENTE as they say in Spanish. I say “I can’t wait”!

Inma’s Shrine Includes Famous Almodovar Poster

Inma’s appartment was like a doll’s house. Amazing how her aspirations could be seen in every nook and cranny.  Of course her lover, Rubio, did not pay attention to much beyond her bed and butt.  A quick glance around her humble abode reveals…

“In the south corner, above the old-fashioned radiator, there was a shrine to each of her idols or goals.  Half a wall was filled with celebrity clippings and classic or blockbuster movie posters including a tough John Travolta and angelic Olivia Newton John embracing in Grease; the loud, colorful images from Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios. Another corner held miscellaneous memorabilia of old Hollywood, including the Casa Blanca classic frame of Bogart and Bergman, plus a laughing Marilyn on her fishnet haunches in Bus Stop. Sloppily painted ceramic souvenirs lined a simple shelf above her bed:  an orange burro whose side baskets served as toothpick holders, a terra cotta bonbon dish Saludos desde Granada and a miniature Asturian clog inscribed Para mi madrina on one side and Oviedo on the front.  This last clunky thing she treasured as a gift from her sister’s twin boys for whom she was both aunt and godmother. Her library included El Feng Shui para todos, Cantos nuevos by Lorca, something by Castaneda and a warped abridged Spanish-English dictionary from her school days.”

How much do your surroundings tell about you?  How deep into your dwelling can a visitor dig?

In method acting, an actress would want to know what is in her character’s handbag so as to prepare for the role.

What would be in Inma’s medicine cabinet or pantry?  These details speak volumes.



via Daily Prompt: Core

In One Dress, One Day, Francisco, the streetsmart thief, lives in Barcelona.

“His universe was the inner core of Barcelona, a labyrinth of old neighborhoods proud of their original parish names and mentalities. He rarely smelt the salt air or gazed out onto the murky sea. Any experience of a beach, like la Barceloneta, was limited and likely illicit.”