Friday, April 23, 2010

My Mother's Clothes

My mother's clothes were filled with magic. I loved watching her dress for a party. I loved exploring her closet when she was out. Her clothes were the gateway to the mysterious world of adults.
When I discovered Jeannette Montgomery Barron's book on her mother's clothes in Paris.
 At musee des arts decoratifs I was captivated. Her mother's fashion notes. Reminded me of my own mother's design school sketches.
And my mother's ever present dreams of becoming a fashion designer. There were many parallels, like Jeannette's mother's obsession with fashion. While her mother bought the best - Bill Blass, Norman Norrell, Yves Saint Laurent, my mother only dreamed of those names. Together we sleuthed the best shops to examine and plot, so my mother could go home and sew up her own versions. Like Jeanette's push/pull tug of war with her mother, I too did not want to be fashionable as an adolecent. I did NOT want to become a fashion designer. No way! So many memories surfaced while paging through Jeannette's book that I had to get in touch with her. We started emailing. Last night I went to her book party. At Kate Spade on 454 Broome street. The champagne was flowing.People were lining up to get their books signed. And signed
There was hardly a moment to say hello.
To say "Thank you" for b ringing back memories of my mother.
Jeannette has photographed many artists - Francesco Clemente, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat. No wonder the pictures of her mother's clothes are like paintings. Her work will be in the Staley-Wise gallery. As I was sleuthing around shooting, Jeannette recognized me from my blog photo with the giant red goggles! I've lost my anonymity but it was a delight to meet her.Kate Spade is the perfect home for Jeannette's very beautiful book.
My Mother's Clothes, works as the perfect accessory to carry under you arm.
Leaving the shop, I noticed the sign.
Ain't that the truth.
There's so much I haven't told you about Jeannette's book.
But her video says it all.


  1. I can relate to that, too, very much, Carol. My mom made all her clothes, and she was a beautiful seamstress. As a little child, I used to love to go into her room and sort of wrap her clothes around me in the quiet of the closet. It was like a warm hug...I miss her. Lovely post.

  2. Carol, Your blog is a work of art!
    I look forward to reading it every
    time! Thanks so much for the
    wonderful pictures and stories...
    not to mention your beautiful art
    work and Max the Bear!

    Flora Doora

  3. Justine9:52 AM

    Thank you Carol, for introducing us to Jeannette and your mother!
    Lovely stories both of them.

  4. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Carol, I'm commenting on your very poignant post just before heading to S. Jersey, to have lunch with my 97 year old Dad. As an artist, and son, I know I must one day chronicle his life in an attempt to "bear witness" to a noble, hard working man. Someone once said men go through life, trying to please their fathers, even after their passing.
    Perhaps the same can be said of women, and their Mothers.
    Thank you for this beautiful posting.

  5. a "very plus" post, carol!!
    thank you!!!!

  6. Wow ... wow ... and wow! What an exciting time. Thanks for sharing. Of course you are so recognizable with your big RED glasses. Looks like a book to read AND give to your momma.

    Have a great weekend, Carolg!

  7. Love your blog. You are getting famous! Yay!
    I remember my mother's closet too. She had a pair of shoes I would love to have today. Fab navy pumps with the rounded toe and the thicker heel with a luscious sky blue leather lining. Gone but not forgotten...

  8. Anonymous11:24 AM

    My mother is an excellent seamstress (& beautiful,too)...
    but my memories are not as nice.
    I think I'll get the book & live vicariously.
    Lovely post (as always)...but leaves me with a twinge.
    I never can choose a Mother's Day card, that doesn't feel a total lie, etc. I should start a club. I'm not being breaks my heart to admit it, even in a comment."

  9. Oh heavens..who loves their mother unequivocally?
    I hated that my mother picked out my profession-to-be without consulting me.
    Not that I had a clue what I wanted to do.
    There was more war than peace between us and how unusual is that?
    on verra bien

  10. I absolutely adore this post about My Mother's Clothes-it really touched a nerve.
    I loved going into my mom's closets when I was little and trying on her beautiful dresses! (Still do, actually!)
    I will definitely purchase the book.
    Would you know if Kate Spade has extras signed books?
    Thank you

  11. I would love to get this book, I have the best memories of my mother and will miss her always!!!!

  12. Brigitte12:45 PM

    I wanted to let you know how much this post on your mom and the book signing touched me.
    I'm sure that your mother was someone not only fantastic but proud of her daughter.
    My mom is coming for a visit tomorrow following Mother Nature that decided to postpone the trip by a week.
    I've become addicted to your posts, but moreso I feel like I've met a new friend. When you write I have the same sense of humor with a Chicago flair living in Paris.
    People like you inspire me.

    Sending lots of sunshine and love your way,

  13. I loved this post about the book signing. And it made me go back to look at your older posts about your mother and your past careers... So much wonderful history.
    It's so interesting to me to see how people carve their paths into the art world.

  14. I was watching NBC's Parenthood last night (I rarely watch TV but I'm hooked on this touching family drama), and the mother said to her daughter (who was having difficulty with her own teenage daughter):

    "Daughters always hate their mothers, it's part of nature. But then they come back."

    I thought it was so beautiful. Cheers to loving our moms and "coming back" :)

  15. Carol, you are so lucky! Always meeting great people all over the world. Lovely post.

  16. Michele2:21 PM

    I just wanted to tell you that I LOVE your site. I love all of your photos… and I’ve been to Paris once… I want to go back so bad!

  17. Anonymous2:31 PM

    Great post, I'm going to go order he book right now.

  18. Very nice, Carol, very touching.
    I'm glad that you two got to meet.
    Have a good weekend!

  19. What a beautiful and touching story. The photograph of her mother's white pants hanging in the window almost disappearing in the shining light is just breathtaking and beyond words.

    Thank you, Carol, for bringing this book and wonderful woman to our awareness.
    It's heartwarming when someone has the courage to share a tragic situation and somehow transform it into a celebration of life.

    Very inspiring-and also has me thinking how I may use my experience with my mom in a creative way.

    I wish I could have been at the book signing to meet the author.

  20. Anne Marie5:08 PM

    Her book is a very moving tribute...
    Thanks Carol

  21. POLLY F6:08 PM


  22. I want to leave you a tip! Check out episode 2 of Christian Louboutin's film "Le Carrosse Noir". The girls munch on macarons!

  23. Your post made me so very envious....even your subsequent comment about warring with your mother does not have to have been very secure in your love for her to be able to rebel. How wonderful for you!

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I recently did a series of photos based on my mother's dresses called My Mother/Myself. It seemed to resonate with many people and I'm thinking of expanding this project. Thank you for telling me about this book. I must buy it.

  26. Ah yes, brings back memories. In the 60's my mother had a gorgeous aqua and white sleeveless chemise that my nearly four-year-old heart coveted. When she and I were both supposed to be napping, I snuck into her closet and put it on. I jumped up on a chair to admire myself in the bureau mirror, tripped on the excess fabric and hit my head on the bureau's sharp Danish mod corner. I still bear the scar near my hairline. I believe the dress was ruined -- but it was a fabulous dress. Love your blog.

  27. Kathy in Utah6:26 PM

    YOU for reminding me of something I miss about my own
    mother! She was a teacher, but she could have been a fashion designer. An
    excellent seamstress and a child of the Depression, she made all our clothes growing up. She never failed to comment on fabric texture, good seams and bad
    seams,bias cuts, and the "fall" of a gown or skirt. (Her daughter was
    hopeless in these departments, but an excellent person and artist anyway!)
    Thank you!


  28. What a fabulous book idea, it looks fantastic.

  29. I agree with "Whit"'s comment.
    "Daughters always hate their mothers, it's part of nature. But then they come back."
    My mom used to make her own clothes, too, based on "Images du Monde" pictures. It was her own mother's desire. She worked in a couture salon for a while, excelling in the perfectly comfortable cut of the patterns, but she dropped off.
    It was not until my late thirties that I appreciated her sewing skills and her style. Between the two of us, even her idea of what I should do in life-teaching- was not so wrong after all. I was recently told that I sell as if I teach...
    Very much appreciated post.
    Be blessed and happy.

  30. Oh I'm going to have to pick that one up. This was a wonderfully lovely post darling!

  31. Charming!

    I have ordered this book for my own mama for Mother's Day. She will be transported with every page as she shared this same era and passion.

    Thank you for these endearing insights into aging parents, the treasure of the times that we've had...

    Carol, your blog is pure confection!

  32. Oooh, very interesting. That book is something my sister would enjoy. I'm curious to see more of her work so in a moment I'll pop over to the links you've provided. Thank you.

  33. Misha in Paris5:50 AM

    It would be interesting if she has kept all her old clothes, but no ! I've got photos, tailleur annees 50 etc... black and white, tipical...
    interesting "reportage" on musée des Arts déco

  34. Elaine9:57 AM

    I was especially touched with your mother's drawings. My mother went to Parsons to study fashion illustration in the '30's. She only went for one year as she had to go to work to help the family during the depression. I looked at her drawings in the '50's when we were cleaning out the basement. Then they disappeared. She said my father didn't see any reason to keep them. I wish that I still had that piece of her. You are very lucky to have yours.
    There is another book related to what we wear. Love, Loss And What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman 1995.
    Keep up the good blogging.

  35. I'm off ot Amazon to find this book. If nothing else, it will spiff of my stack of books on the coffee table!

  36. What a wonderful post, just reminded me why I "follow" you :-)

    I remember my mom getting ready for cocktail parties and military balls, helping her put on her makeup (and remembering when I was about the age she was then ~ 35, that my eyelids started becoming "crepey"--when I was in my early teens, I just couldn't figure out why the eyeshadow kept getting "wrinkly"...but my fondest memories were of those dresses and shoes and coats! Pink, one shoulder, ostrich feathers; black lace "spanish dancer" dress; champagne "opera coat" with ruched sleeves; stillettos with irridescent black glass sequins (which shredded the "flamenco" dresses hem)...

    I was fortunate enough to be able to wear that dress when one of my cats won an International title, in Atlantic City, at the hotel where all the Miss America gowns were on display...

    I have to do a post on that some day soon...

    I think I, too, will get this book for my mom!

  37. Oh I just discovered your blog researching the book My Mothers clothing. I just adore your post!!!! What a lovely chance to go to this book signing. Thank you for sharing your own memories and evening:)


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