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“Kappakjolen” – the Story of a Dress

We have just celebrated my mothers 90th birthday this weekend, and during the festivities, an old family photograph turned up. Below I have cropped the photo so it just shows  a 7 or 8 years old me in the most beautiful dress I have ever owned.

My mother related the story of the dress, which for the most part I knew, but there were some new-to-me details. Anyway, here it is:

My parents had built their house close to my paternal grandparents’ home, and we moved in when I was two years old. At about the same time, an old chapel (bedehus) was taken from its original location and moved further into the valley, closer to the farms where we lived. My paternal grandmother, Helene, and neighbouring women formed a society with the aim of raising money for a new organ for the chapel. They organized bazaars and raffles, and my mother helped by making some of the prizes for the raffles. She made this dress and gave it to the society to use as a raffle prize. She made it out of a thin, white nylon fabric with tiny raised dots, using an old Bernina treadle machine, and at a time in life when she had 4 children aged 1 to 6, was expecting her 5th child, and still had no washing machine. How she mustered the time and energy I do not know. Just hemming all those ruffles would have taken forever.

My grandmother Helene won the dress at the raffle, and she gave it to me, probably because I was the right size for it at the time. Lucky me.

The first time I remember wearing it, was during the Christmas celebrations when I was 5. By then I was in a hospital in Oslo, 600 kilometres away from home, and alone, except for some distant relatives and friends visiting now and then. When it was decided that I would not be able to come home for Christmas, my parents sent the dress and a pair of not-quite-new shoes, which my father had made glossy and new-looking by applying some black lacquer, so I would have something nice to wear for the celebrations. I remember the nurses oohing and aahing over my dress, and I was very, very proud of it.

Later I remember wearing it to the Sunday school Christmas celebrations at the chapel, where there now was an organ, partly thanks to the dress that my mother made. We did not have a car (they were rationed till 1960), so my parents loaded the family on two kicksleds, two children on each seat, and one standing between the seat and the parent, who then kicked our way the 3 kilometres to the chapel. Once a storm blew up on our way home, and I can still remember the feeling of hails stinging my face as we crossed an open, boggy area before we got in between the trees. Of course we were all dressed as if we were going on a polar expedition, but the beautiful dress was underneath it all. So the first thing we did upon arriving, was to go downstairs to shed all the thick wool, put on our best shoes we had brought along, and then it was time for my mother to comb our hairs and put in the big bows (which I hated, by the way) before entering the big room. 60 years later I have been told by some of my contemporaries that they still remember that dress.

The photo above is the only one that exists of that dress, that I know of. I was then 7 or 8 years old, and the dress is already too small. Later it went to my two younger sisters, each in their turn. I am not sure what became of it after that, but it was probably passed on to some younger cousins, – that was how things were done back then. If so, I hope they enjoyed wearing it as much as I did.

🙂

Eldrid

 

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Fashion Show in Suzdal

I mentioned in a previous post that I would post some photos from the Fashion Show in Suzdal, and finally, here they are.

The Fashion Show was held on a stage built in the middle of the town square, and was part of the entertainment on the annual Suzdal Day, which is celebrated on the second Saturday of August.

They kept going for almost two hours, as participants of all ages were showing more than a hundred different outfits. Because of the crowd of people in front of the stage, it was difficult to get up close, so I had to use the zoom a lot, which lessen the chance of getting clear shots.

Below are a few of the outfits. All the information from the stage was in Russian only, so sadly we missed out on a lot of the details. So I will not be able to inform on the names of the designers or wearers of the outfits, except for a few that I have picked up on later.

 

fashione10Nina Lee in her beautiful skirt and waistcoat.

fashione11I believe this is also one of Nina Lee’s creations.

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Ludmila Charest presents a collection of outfits made in a class with Xenia Dmitrieva. See also video clip below.

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Many of the dresses seemed to be inspired by folk costumes.

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Denim was popular, either as new fabric or re-purposed jeans. Note the bird theme.

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There were a few collections of children’s outfits. They were adorable, – all of them.

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A few of many, many skirts, coats and jackets.

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A collection of outfits in an old fashioned style, and with some patchwork details.

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This one got a lot of attention. The design was inspired by the town of Suzdal, with all its churches and bell towers,

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A couple of fanciful skirts, – very original. I liked them better and better each time I saw them around town during the following days.  There was a whole collection with similar dekor.

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Behind the scenes:  Cuddling the baby while waiting to enter the stage.

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“Backstage” was in reality at one of the sides of the stage, so while the participants were lining up waiting for their turn, some lucky persons got to photograph the outfits up close.

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Walking around the square after the show doing some shopping in one or more of the many booths, there were some interesting clothing items around to study and admire.

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Some video clips from the fashion show:

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Enjoy.

🙂

Eldrid

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