Of Another Fashion

Last night I discovered (via Sew Weekly) the Tumblr blog Of Another Fashion: An alternative archive of  the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of women of color.

Finding this blog was exhilarating for me -- you all know how I love vintage style -- but also like a punch in the gut. Here is a blog full of images of glamorous women -- images that are so familiar to me because my family albums are filled with images like these. My mother and aunts, my grandmother, all looking beautiful and fashionable in bygone times.

But the images were also exotic, even to me, because women of color -- women like me -- were rarely featured in aspirational media.

This explanation from the project's founder says it all for me.
In providing a glimpse of women of color’s material cultural histories - a glimpse that no doubt only begins to redress the curatorial and critical absence of minoritized fashion histories - this archive and the forthcoming exhibition commemorates lives and experiences too often considered not important enough to save or to study.

I'm Hispanic and I honestly can't say that I feel ignored by today's aspirational media. A great percentage of our designers, our movie stars, our fashion and beauty icons are latinas. I really can't complain about the present.

But oh, how this blog has made me upset about the not so distant past. It's not like we came from nothing. We have a history too.

That's my life, my history, that's being ignored.

My mother's family didn't move to the US until the seventies (and then they moved back and didn't return until the very late eighties), so I don't think many of my family photos would qualify for the project.

I thought I'd share one from my family albums. All I know about the picture below is that it shows my grandmother and grandfather in the Dominican Republic sometime in the 50s.

That's them on the left, wearing white and looking dapper.

I never met my grandfather -- he passed away when my mother was only 12. I don't know who most of the people in the photo are, actually. But I keep this photo of my grandparents at a family party on my desktop because oh, what a grand time they seem to be having!

I know a bit of what happened after this photo was taken, but the people living that moment couldn't have known the many hardships that had to be endured. The many joys that were celebrated. The many things and people that had to live, that had to exist, so I could be here today.

On that day, they danced in their pretty dresses and fancy suits.

They remind me that elegance and grace is timeless and has no color.