It’s that time, again!! NYFW has arrived and the city is abuzz with talk of new collections and the influences behind them. While designers’ influences are quite literally associated with their collections, my influences are a little more personal, and a little less obvious.
I’ve made many mentions of my grandfather, and the great influence he had on me as I was growing up. One person I have yet to share is someone I never met, but who, nonetheless, has played a rather significant part in my designing abilities, my great-grandmother, Lillian.
After we were featured on HarpersBAZAAR.com, some of my aunts were kind enough to share their memories of this rather remarkable and talented woman with me.
My very stylish great-grandmother, rocking the Roaring Twenties
Lillian was a grandmother to a baker’s dozen. When she was not clothing her grandchildren, she focused on making garments for her clients. She would recreate dresses viewed in stores exactly, and have the final product sewn together and ready within a matter of days. Lillian’s attention to detail, her squeaky-clean finished seams, ensured her high rate of customer satisfaction (gotta love that German precision).
Lillian had incredibly high standards for her students, my aunts, who were required to rip out and do over work that was not up to those standards (very similar to my sewing teacher at Parsons, to whom I will be eternally grateful). These sewing skills came in very handy when they were teenagers. When my aunts were in high school, they had to be asked out by Wednesday in order to have the new dress made and the shoes dyed to match in time for the boy to pick her up on Saturday evening. And I thought I put a lot of work into preparing for a date…
One of my favorite pictures is this Christmas portrait from the early 1950s. Every child is in a Lillian original. Impressed? I sure am.
Six of the baker’s dozen in Lillian originals