From the family album

This is my mom’s mom, Alice, who left us 19 years ago today. One of my personal style icons, she was always very elegant, but at the same time disliked having her photo taken, and so many of the ones I could find are candid. The first photo, as you can tell, was taken on the day she married my grandpa—the second time!!

And…how about that wedding gown?? It was a bespoke gown, made in the Maria Clara style, much talked about in the society papers at the time (I tried, unsuccessfully, to find the clippings—they’re buried in a trunk somewhere) and what you can’t see in the photo are the hundreds of tiny silk rosettes and sequins on the alampay (shoulder covering) and the tapis (overskirt). Sadly, it did not stand the test of time, but we do have some of the trimmings which some of us granddaughters have been able to incorporate in our own wedding ensembles.

She wanted to be an architect, but it was not a female-friendly profession in the fifties, and after graduating from university she devoted herself to being a wife and mom full-time. Later on she studied interior design, and also took an advanced dressmaking course which enabled her to create custom patterns, including one for my 16-year-old self (she made my dress for Junior Prom).

Lola Alice was and is a huge influence on me. I can still feel her looking over my shoulder at times, guiding what I’m doing, a source of strong and quiet inspiration. It’s a personal challenge—and a great honour—to keep her memory and legacy alive.

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