La scelta di Victoria

Victoria’s choice

The ropes were still swaying, much to everyone's delight. Each push brought back to Victoria memories of the surprise her grandfather had made her as a child. Of her first summer visiting her family in Val d'Orcia. Of the heat that faded the fields and the dusty lanes. Of her grandmother, who cautioned her to be careful.

"Higher, Mummy," urged Mathilda.

Dissatisfied with her little brother's efforts, she had persuaded Victoria to take a break. With her mother, it was like flying. The swing rose almost high enough to scare her, but that was what she wanted, to feel as grown-up as Thomas.

"Up to the branch," she kept saying, gripping the ropes tighter than usual.

With cheeks flushed from the effort, Victoria was surprised at how solid her favourite plaything still was. Rain and sun hadn’t worn down the knotty wood of the seat on which, so many years later, Mathilda now sat. The rough ropes, which as a child she couldn't encircle, still sounded with a rhythmic creak. Up and down. Takeoff and landing. Only the branch had grown more serious and had stopped swaying as it once did.

A gust of wind brought Victoria back from her journey down memory lane. These days, the sun had returned to warm the garden, and the buds on the branches were about to bloom. It wasn't quite the time for just a sweater yet.

In the room where Mathilda had found her, an illuminated screen awaited her, displaying the presentation she was preparing. "The report!" Victoria remembered, letting the children continue with their play. At home, her phone had started ringing again from the right pocket of her pristine white Isveita trench. Her colleague's voice confirmed the environmental data she had requested a check on. The figures had seemed too high to be true. "The impact is undeniable, we knew that. I'll talk to you at the reception," Victoria concluded, switching off the PC. With measured timing, the hand that Michele placed on her shoulder reminded her that it was time to leave.

The reception was at a villa outside the village. An informal gathering where Michele had the habit of meeting with his colleagues from the firm. Lawyers and accountants, who, with a passion for good wine, would meet up as soon as work allowed it. At first, Victoria had felt it was an exclusive club, lost amongst the Sienese hills, made up of old friends. For her, whose work often led her to travel, adapting to those rhythms had not been easy.

On the villa's cobbled driveway, there were more cars than usual. Approaching, Victoria had joked with Michele, repeating the names of the owners and their consorts. No surprises in the pairings. Not even for the new cars. Michele had played along, and she had leaned on his arm. The late afternoon lights had brightened their figures at the entrance and had found them again in the back garden, where the guests awaited them.

"Your husband has told me about your work on fashion sustainability. It sounds interesting," a colleague of her husband's in a blue executive suit had asked her.
"It is. I didn’t expect to come to these conclusions," said Victoria, slipping her hands into her pockets. The swing of the soft and sinuous lapel of her white trench coat had underlined the sentence with a hint of sincere seriousness.
" we should go back to sewing clothes from jute sacks..." provoked Roberto.
"Not at all, just understand the problems of constant replacement."
"I," continued Roberto, "change my car, PC, and phone every year. Leasing and that's it. Always up to date, always efficient. Even for consumption."
"Yes, that's one approach. And perhaps for technology, it's the most appropriate. But for fashion, it's different. The race of fast fashion isn't towards the best quality. Au contraire," replied Lorenza, who had joined the conversation.
"Indeed," Victoria countered. "Millions of garments are consumed every year. Literally consumed, because they're made to last a short time and with synthetic materials, which we struggle to dispose of. The paradox," she continued after a pause to emphasize the value of her words, "is that thus the clothes last too little when we need them and too much when we no longer need them."
"What's the direction then?"
"The one we've always had in front of us. Quality. Like that of this wine you've offered us, and of this overcoat in slow fashion." said Victoria with barely concealed pride. "The quality of the ingredients, like that of the fabrics. For this lovely evening, we don't need more than a couple of glasses each, but let them be good!"
"And to make a good impression, this trench is all you need," joked Roberto.
"Beautiful, isn't it? I liked it immediately. They made it to order for me, so no waste. Silk and cotton, no microplastics. Quality that lasts, not quantity to throw away: that's the direction. And yes, that's how I want to make a good impression," concluded Victoria with a smile, before clinking her glass against Roberto's.