“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.
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)
February 2, 2008
The Ghost of Fashion Past