My Mom’s Tiny Fashion Empire


Here’s a secret: when I was a kid my mom and I created a small fashion empire. So small, in fact, that it never left my bedroom.

Together, we toiled to ensure that my dolls were the best dressed in the neighborhood. I would sketch designs and she would render them real. It was a perfect mother/son relationship. I lived my fashion designer fantasy, while she had the pleasure of seeing me very very happy. Like the real fashion industry, she was lowly paid (all I could offer her were hugs and kisses).

Decades later, when my mother retired she went solo. She rekindled her love of doll fashion to dress Barbies she snags at a local Salvation Army.

The ensembles were knitted–old age has rendered her eyes too weak to sew at a doll scale–and when she completed each doll she donated them to the local senior center, which sold them to raise money for their activities.

Recently, she’s been winding down her doll “business” but she’s kept some of her favorites–pictured above.

I couldn’t resist posting this photo, which I found in my email from a few months back. It’s a small tribute to the woman who taught me to love color, life and creativity.

2 responses to “My Mom’s Tiny Fashion Empire”

  1. Cheryl Bernstein Avatar

    I love this post, and the little knitted outfits. My grandmother used to make very similar knitted creations for my dolls in the 1970s, and seeing your photo brought back the sense of excitement I had when opening her parcels: the knitted two-pieces, jackets with revers, waisted dresses, all of which were wrapped in tissue paper. I still have them. Just beautiful. And you’re right: it’s that feeling for beauty in the everyday as a child that leads on to an interest in art.

  2. Joanne Mattera Avatar

    Love this, Hrag. Both your mom’s fashions and the fact that she was such a fabulously nurturing mother to a little Barbie-dressing son. Your mom has a great color sense, and frankly she should be designing knitwear for some lucky company.

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