It's Halloween night, and although it means missing a chance to rendezvous with the Great Pumpkin I'm staying in. No costume, unless you count the Japanese kimono I wear as a bathrobe. From the neck down, I suppose, you could call me Yum-Yum; but of course, from the neck down you can call me that on any night of the year.
But this afternoon I had a happy chance to play dress-up. Ysolda Teague came to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live! and was one of the dozen or so faculty members who got stranded here due to that beastly storm that smashed the Northeast.
We were both more than a little glum about what's happened to New York, New Jersey, and environs; and decided to cheer ourselves with a rummage through the marvelous collection of hats (and a suit) that my grandmother left behind.
My grandmother was a true daughter of the Great Depression. She grew up knowing deprivation, and it taught her the twin virtues of thrift and carefulness. Things bought for "Best" were studiously tended and mended, and never thrown out unless they'd been worn, literally, to rags.
She also saved the lids from plastic margarine tubs, and left us an entire bag stuffed with them, but that's another entry.
After she died, up on the highest shelf of the bedroom closet, we found her hats. They ranged from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, and they were all–even the most delicate–in perfect condition, packed in tissue and labeled with her name. Most were made locally. One was even in its original box from Jen's, a Uniontown millinery back in the days when Uniontown was a handsome little place with a certain amount of dignity.
All those years–even after they were long out of fashion–once a year she'd take them down and tend them, re-pack them and put them back. The boxes weren't even dusty.
And at the back of the closet were three skirt suits (all wool with silk linings, two with fur collars). All looking as though they were made yesterday. One came home with me, and the other two are being sent along.
We were lacking much of what usually supports a proper photo shoot: no hairspray, no hairpins aside from the ones Ysolda was already wearing, no rollers or curling iron (such hair as I retain is naturally curly) and not much makeup. I hadn't pulled out the lights or reflectors, and needless to say we hadn't any wardrobe aside from the suit.
But we took advantage of the gentle north light in the dining room, and of the fact that it is damned near impossible to take a bad photograph of Ysolda. For a few shots, I draped her in the black velvet I keep handy for use as a backdrop.
Here's a selection from the afternoon. Any number of blogs can offer you a nightmare on Halloween. Me, I am honored to offer you a dream.