THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

February 2, 2008

The Ghost of Fashion Past

Filed under: Fashion,Musings — phyllisc @ 11:07 am
Anthony & Adele Vestcyk, circa 1920's

It is in paintings or in family albums that traces of true fashion can be found.” – Coco Chanel*

I love old photos and yesterday my mother emailed me this gem. These are my grandparents, Anthony and Adele Vestcyk. I have never seen this photo before and it was a total eye opener.

My grandmother had a keen interest in fashion, and even though she lived her entire life within 20 miles from where she was born and had only a fourth grade education, she nonetheless had supreme confidence in her sense of style. Look at what she’s wearing: knickers (!) a sporty blouse, and very nice shoes. My mother tells me my grandmother was a huge fan of Coco Chanel (me too) and I certainly detect the influence of Mademoiselle beaming like a laser all the way from 1920’s Paris to a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. Like Chanel, Della Vestcyk was a woman who dressed to please herself.Coco Chanel in the 1920's

My grandfather looks far more dapper than I remember; look at his straw boater, slim trousers, and I think that’s a pocket watch chain on his right side.

This photo is also remarkable because I can’t ever recall seeing my grandparents express any affection towards each other. When I was little they were clearly devoted to each other in a kind of prickly way, and they had a solid marriage, but my memory is of two people orbiting each other in their house and pretty much living their own lives. But here they look very happy together, and their relationship was more complex than I could ever imagine.







* Page 377, Chanel and Her World, by Edmonde Charles-Roux (The Vendome Press, copyright 1981 & 2005)


  1. Lovely picture of your grandparents and a treasure that your mom sent it to you.

    Comment by Els — February 2, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

  2. It’s always an eye-opener when we get to see photographs of our parents or grandparents when they were young and first together. When I was cleaning up after my mother died, I found a series of photographs that were taken when they were first married and the amount of sheer silliness and fun that was exhibited in those pictures was really heartwarming. The pictures that were taken of them later on, once they were parents, older, etc. were pretty stiff and formal with one another, but these photos showed a couple of young people who were absolutely nuts for one another.

    Comment by toby Wollin — February 3, 2008 @ 7:55 am

  3. Phyllis .- I agree with Els, is a pretty picture for you and proud to have this treasure. I retained my family photos as a treasure and clothing says something about people and their time, for example: my father always working on the land and my mother in the city in the textile factory. Congratulations on such a great story. A big hug, Paco

    Comment by Paco Peralta — February 3, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

  4. What a very special memento for you!! I love looking at my grandmother’s photo. She studied fashion in Rome, came to the US, had three children, and died at 24. Her photo is the only remembrance I have of her! A fashionista in her time!

    Comment by Annette — February 3, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  5. Wow, have you thought about making a pillow out of this picture? That would be really cool. I did that for my mom of her parents pictures, gave it to her on her last Brithday! She loved it! Might be a idea gift for your Mom.
    Blessings Diana

    Comment by Diana Adams — February 3, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  6. […] hours!  No need to run another photo – she looks exactly like the photo on Ebay.  Her name is Della. […]

    Pingback by Instant Gratification! « The Sewing Divas — February 8, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  7. Terrific photo of your grandparents! I love how Grandma is following Coco’s firm rule….a woman should not show her elbows or knees (Chanel thought those two body parts were the ugliest on a woman’s body).

    Comment by devil — February 8, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

  8. […] have a proper dress form, I can show you one of my prize pieces of fashion.  This coat belonged to my grandmother; she bought it from a department store called Pomeroy’s in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania sometime […]

    Pingback by Paris Calling, Circa 1957 « The Sewing Divas — February 9, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

  9. […] came for a visit last week, and she brought two suitcases patterns that belonged to my grandmother Della Vesctyk.  What a treasure trove!  Most of them will end up on Ebay, although I did keep a handful.  […]

    Pingback by Vintage Bonanza - Part 1 « The Sewing Divas — April 26, 2008 @ 8:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: