If you’ve ever found a handwritten note or scrap of fabric inside a vintage pattern and been transported back in time to visions of the original dressmaker, I think the following story is going to resonate with you…
These beautiful sketches were designed by ‘lady tailor’ Hedy Strnad in 1930s Czechoslovakia.
The designs were sent to a cousin in America in the hopes Hedy’s talent would secure her a dressmaking job and therefore a visa, allowing her and her husband to escape their Nazi-occupied homeland. Tragically, the plan failed – the Strnads perished in the Holocaust after being interned in a concentration camp.
Amazingly, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee was able to use the information from just one letter to uncover Hedy’s forgotten history, rescuing her work from obscurity to create the Stitching History from the Holocaust exhibit.
In a poignant tribute to Hedy’s talent, the costume shop of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater was able to translate her sketches into finished garments using period fabrics and techniques.
Now the museum is hoping to create patterns from Hedy’s designs so her work can take on a new life and lasting legacy. Can you help?
If you’d like to be involved in the project, please get in touch with the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or share this post with any friends who might be interested.
To learn more about Hedy, the dresses and the exhibition, here’s a fascinating PBS Special that includes lots of detail on how the dresses were created.
Powerful stuff. Imagine how wonderful it would be to get Hedy’s designs into patterns so they could be sewn and worn worldwide – please share this information with anyone who might be able to help the museum bring this dream into reality!