#3 Aunt Debbie’s purple dress

Posted on Sep 30, 2016 | No Comments


This time I found a very feminine heirloom piece that has been worn many times in both South Africa and the USA since the early 1950s.

Name: Christie Keshet
Works as: stylist / illustrator
Born in: Harrismith, South Africa
Lives in: Brooklyn Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Heirloom Piece: Purple lace dress from the 40s/50s, once belonged to aunt Debrah.
Outfit: Sandals are from Italy. Earrings are from Feliz, a little boutique in Fort Greene

a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.

Where did you find this beautiful dress?
This dress was given to me when I was 14 by my beautiful aunt Debbie, who is sort of my second mom. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever own. I think I was too afraid to wear it at first, actually! My aunt has an affinity for comely clothing. This dress was a gift from the theater company she worked for in Johannesburg. She did the costuming for all the plays. I certainly inherited her love for clothing and all things beautiful as I now work as a stylist and illustrator in NYC.


I was too afraid to wear it at first

Do you remember your aunt wearing it?
Sadly I don’t remember my aunt wearing the dress. It was given to her in the eighties but I’m sure it’s much older than that. She moved to a farm down the road from ours after her city life and daily-daily didn’t really call for fancy dresses. She was most likely in her 20’s when she wore the dress.


Christie’s aunt Debrah in South Africa with brother and son

Can you tell us a little more about your aunt?
My aunt is an amazing artist, decorator and cook. She is stylish in a Jane Berkin way. Simple, elegant and classic. I am in touch with her these days. She’s still on the farm, happy as can be.

What does this piece mean to you?
This dress holds a lot of sentimental value to me. My aunt gave it to me because she has a son and I’m sort of the daughter she never had. I always loved the way she dressed, and looked to her as a style icon. It meant the world to me when she gave me one of her most precious dresses. The most memorable occasion I wore the dress to was a homecoming dance in Highschool.

Would you ever sell the dress?
I could never sell this dress! Perhaps one day, like my aunt I will pass it along to the right person. It’s certainly going to stay in the family.

How would you describe your style? 
I would describe my style as minimal and comfort-centric with details in my accessories. I prefer simple pieces: jumpsuits, dresses, jeans with t-shirts. And I love shoes! I don’t like to spend a lifetime getting dressed in the morning, so having pieces I know work well are key.


How do you like to shop?
I like to let clothing find me. I prefer smaller shops and one of a kind pieces. Some of my favorite places are No. 6, ABC carpet and home, Warm and Housing Works. I don’t shop all that often, but when I do I try to make sure it’s something absolutely amazing, something I love.

I like to let clothing find me

What makes clothing valuable to you?
I think that clothing is an extension of who we are and what we want to share with the world. Finding pieces that embody what we want to express is a beautiful thing. And really fun, too!


Photo’s by Simone Larocca 

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