I met Thilde Weems in 1987. She was a sophomore at Brown University. I had graduated a couple of years before, then working in Brown’s Office of Development.
We spent a lot of time walking all over Providence. And late nights at the Graduate Center Bar — conveniently located in the basement of the Graduate Center Complex where Thilde lived — talking about everything.
Even today, the GCB is often voted as Providence’s # 1 hidden, dive bar. Famed novelists Robert Coover and John Hawkes routinely held graduate and undergraduate creative writing seminar classes at the GCB. As manuscripts were passed along with jug wine, the brilliance of the students’ fiction grew rosy in the imagination of their readers.
Over the years, Thilde and I lost touch. But recently I found the 1987 photo of us outside the Rhode Island Courthouse at the base of College Hill, and the discovery sparked a reconnection.
I learned that Thilde had made a career shift from psychiatrist to acclaimed Los Angeles fashion designer.
My first thought was that Thilde’s chic and artistic outfits — especially Moon Dress — must be seen by Rochestarians, whose fashion scene, while not bad, lacks a dash of L.A.
Upon my request, Thilde is kindly sending some Moon Dresses to Rochester. Upon their arrival, Talker models will be promenading all around town as we chronicle all the oohs and ahs they will surely receive (not to mention sales). So Cal comes to the South Wedge.
Thilde describes how she moved away from the medical profession to follow her calling — and to Belle Neptune:
I met Dave, affectionately referred to as “the GCB guy” by my roommate (because we hung out there) in 1987. He was a bright spot in my otherwise very bleak existence, while living in a shoe box single at the Grad Center Building, which closely resembled a state penitentiary. We would walk around campus and on the East Side on cool fall days and share a pitcher of Schaffer beer at the GCB bar by night. From my single, we watched the stock market plummet on TV on Black Monday in 1987. We were what Brown people called “tweeners,” a little romantic but not full-fledged. We weren’t that romantic because I was afraid of relationships, but we probably were supposed to be.
I was pre-med and struggling with Biology and Organic Chemistry at the time, thinking this was what good girls do: study, work hard, struggle, sacrifice. Secretly, I longed to be part of the cool kids at Brown, the illuminati celebrity kids who studied things like Semoitics and Creative Writing, rode motorcycles to class and went to “Funk Night”, dancing to The English Beat, or whatever. Even more taboo, I wanted to be an artist at RISD, down the hill: an infinitely cooler crowd that seemed untouchable. But, my days at Brown were mostly studying in the “Sci Li” or in the basement of the GCB, memorizing elaborate and colorful posters of the Krebs cycle that I had made. (see What Millennials think of the Bridge Generation at Lux Lounge. )This good girl thing went on for more than 25 years! Of course I don’t regret my education or having helped numerous people, but it took me a very very long time to give myself the permission to create. After my formal medical training ended, I immediately began my a la carte studies in graphic arts, printmaking, and apparel arts from 2000-2012. When my mother passed away in 2013, I decided to make a change: to be bold and courageous and put my creative side “out there” in a very public way.
Not knowing anything about the apparel industry, I started “Belle Neptune”, an astrological reference to inspiration and imagination. I wanted to merge my printmaking expertise with clothing. I started with a space theme, using NASA images and using fashion silhouettes from the 1960’s. The moon dress was an early creation in 2013 and has been a great hit with customers.
I started with a small design studio, open to the public, in Berkeley, CA. After having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 21 years, I recently moved to southern California to be closer to resources and opportunities to serve Belle Neptune. Items for sale can be found online though my ETSY shop. I have acquired equipment in my garage to print panels of fabric and can do some custom work within limits.
It turns out that I am empowering women after all. Now I call them customers instead of patients.
Who knows, maybe Ringo Starr’s daughter will buy a moon dress, or better yet, Doug Liman will friend me on social media.
Listen up, Talker ladies, and watch for the Moon Dress promenading the streets of our fair city.
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