Monday, June 4, 2012

The threads of history.

One of my favorite things to do when I find vintage pieces is to to as much research as I can about the item, from the style to the designer, to whatever other information I can dig up. At first, I thought this dress was an anonymous, unlabeled piece, as many vintage items are. But then, down in the lining of the dress, near its hem, I saw a label with the name "Renee Firestone" in script.

After a short amount of searching, I learned that she was a well-known fashion designer in America who went on to teach fashion design at the University of California in Los Angeles. But before that, she lived a life filled with more horrors than one could imagine. Born to a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia in 1924,  at the age of 19 she spent over a year imprisoned in Auschwitz, losing all of her family (including her 16-year-old sister, who died at the hands of Dr. Mengele) except her father. Despite the unimaginable horrors she faced, when she came to America in 1948, she created a life for herself and her family by creating beautiful things.Now 88, she is an outspoken Holocaust survivor, speaking out whenever and however possible so that the stories of those who did not survive would never be forgotten. 

This dress is a simple piece. The tasseled collar is the focal point of the front of the dress, with the  a deep-V back and buttons adding some detail to the back of the dress. While this dress was most likely created in the 1960s, it has some elements obviously inspired by the Roaring Twenties, and is a fun staple for any closet.

More importantly, its designer triumphed over tragedy and became an outspoken voice for the victims of the Holocaust, and that in itself gives this dress a whole new meaning.

Click here to watch Renee Firestone's survivor testimony.

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