Q#4 What’s in the cedar chest?

April 12 or 15, 1930 is written on the inside lid of Genevieve Grazis’ cedar chest. From the style of the chest, it seems likely that this was new in 1930. It was Easter Week. Genevieve was 10 years old.

The first thing I see when opening the lid are piles of satin. As I carefully lift out a piece and hold it up, I see a skirt, then another skirt, a top, a dress. I hold my breath as a wave of hot prickles pass over my skin, my eyes tracing the lines and knowing even as my mind struggles to put coherent thought together. The moment stretches out until I think, “This is the dress in the Venice Beach Clip!”.

I race to my laptop to bring up the video and watch it again, noting details-  the puff of the sleeves, the dramatic flare of the skirt, the simple neckline. The dress I hold in my hands is satin, not something you can tell easily from the glare in the video. It’s also a darker ivory, not white. All of the clothes have spots and have been darkened by the years. I decide to wait, to research cleaning and care, to research makers and design before announcing this discovery to the world.

When the clothes have been cleaned and pressed, by a family of vintage cleaners in Morro Bay CA, their return coincides with a visit by Kate Hedin and Bobby White. They second and third my conclusions about the dress. Appropriately, Kate can wear it, and the two world renown Balboa dancers recreate the feel of the beach clip early in the morning at Manhattan Beach, just a mile or so south of Venice. Their clip and interview can be found here at Swungover*, as well as on the bottom of my page.

I am thrilled to share with you a gallery with details from the inside-out of all of Genevieve’s clothes. The album can be found on my page footer. Additional photos shall follow as I am able to have more professional quality ones taken. Enjoy!


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