The Hidden Tag

YOU KNOW MY FEELINGS about Daniel Day-Lewis. One of the two greatest living film actors, the other being Meryl Streep. Obviously.

I might have seen Day-Lewis’s very last ever movie (please, God, say it ain’t so!) the day it came out. It could have been the next day, but let’s say it was the day it came out, for the sake of this particular argument.

The film, by one of my favorite directors, Paul Thomas Anderson, is called “Phantom Thread.” In it, Daniel Day-Lewis plays a renowned dress maker in 1950’s London named Reynolds Woodcock.

One of my favorite scenes happens relatively early on, when Reynolds is telling his companion about how he always sews a piece of fabric with his name into the garment somewhere. It’s hidden away, and no one knows about it except Reynolds and the fabric.

There’s something about that secret knowing that really interests me.

Reynolds would create a dress and then send it out into the world. When he sewed his name in with the fabric, it felt to me as if he were making a promise to the dress to always be with it, to literally co-exist with it, giving the dress its very worth by branding it with his name. It was such a personal, intimate gesture.

I imagine Reynolds making a dress for an occasion. And then what? What happens to the dress after that amazing debut?

I imagine that dress getting sold for charity and closeted and never worn and going out of fashion and finally being given away, probably.

Maybe, years later, a woman sees something about this dress she’s purchased for twenty-five dollars from a thrift store. She can’t quite put her finger on what that is, exactly, but she knows all it needs is a little TLC and a good pair of shoes, and it will be just perfect for her daughter’s theater company, for which she is the costume designer.

“What’s this in the fabric? Oh, my God,” she says.

“What is it?”asks her daughter.

“This dress was made by Reynolds Woodcock in 1954 in London.”

“Who is that?”

“Only the greatest dress maker of his time! This tag with his name was sewn in. It was hidden all this time. I heard he used to do this with every one of his creations, but that’s just become legend, a myth. But it’s actually true! Do you know how much this dress is worth? I’ll never look at a vintage dress the same way again!”

It’s not that the dress wasn’t worth an exorbitant amount of money the entire time. It absolutely was (It was a Reynolds Woodcock original, after all).

It’s just that nobody looked for the tag, and the further it got away from Reynolds, the fewer people knew to look for the tag with Reynolds’ name. It was the discovering of the tag which identified the maker, and that made the worth visible to the mother and her daughter.

That was just something I imagined.

Then it made me think.

Each of us was created by the one who sews his name right into our very being. We were created with the name Love stitched into the very hidden fibers of our souls. We were literally created with and by Love itself, and Love is inextricably intertwined with us as we live our everyday.

(But, it’s hidden.)

Here’s the thing:

We go on for years feeling we have no worth because we have forgotten about the sewing. We’ve forgotten that God spoke with each and every one of us, individually, at the very first moment of our creation:

“You are the only one of you, an original, one of a kind. There never has been, nor will there ever be another you. And I have sewn my name on the very center of your heart so you will know how much I value you. You will live with my name—Love—always on your heart.”

Maybe we’ve forgotten that promise of our worth because we’ve gotten shut away and undervalued for so long. If we don’t feel valued, we forget our worth.

Others don’t give us our value or our worth. That was given to us at the time of our creation. What others do is provide us with the opportunity to rediscover our own worth by seeking out the worth of another.

Imagine looking at another person and seeing them as a one-of-a-kind, original work of art by the finest craftsman of all time.

Because that is what each one of us is.

Each and every individual is like the finest, original, one-of-a-kind dress made by the greatest dressmaker there ever could be.

We know our worth and value because of the tag of Love sewn in before we were even born. We have been given our worth by Love, itself.

The authenticity of your life was stitched into you at your making. If you’ve forgotten that, I am here to tell you that I can see your hidden tag.

I know who made you.

Peace to you.

Author: Scott Langdon

Scott Langdon is an actor, writer, and photographer living just outside of Philadelphia in Bristol, Pennsylvania with his wife, Sarah, and their dog, Watson. He can be seen on stages throughout the professional Philadelphia theater community or writing in one of his many favorite local shops in his beloved "Borough", where the only way they could get rid of him was to tell him there was a pandemic. He has a hard time knowing when he's not wanted.

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