Dawn Gracie’s piece of fashion history
We recently spoke to local legend, Dawn Gracie, about her fascinating vintage find at our 2013 Vintage Affair.
“For many years I was a regular singer for the annual St Wilfrid’s Hospice vintage retail events at The Assembly Rooms in Chichester. I would adore having a pre-opening rummage through the rails for treasure to add to my collection of vintage clothing and accessories.
In 2013 I arrived to set up my speaker and on the stage to the side was a fully dressed mannequin in a beautiful purple ensemble complete with the most exquisite deep purple feather boa.
I immediately undressed the whole outfit and claimed all items as my own! The feather item became one of my favourite finds and I would wear it for very special performances only.
Five years on, and performing at the very same event, I wore this boa and sang my heart out for the shoppers, feeling fabulous. A few days later, I received this email from a lady called Jane ‘’I was delighted to see you wearing the purple feather boa at the Vintage Affair. It belonged to my mother, who was a chorus girl and danced at the Folies Bergere in Paris. She wrote a book about her experiences, ‘Les Girls’, which was made into a film. I’m so pleased it’s gone to a good home. My mother would be thrilled to know it was still on the stage!’’
I was mind-blown and immediately replied asking for a copy of the book, to which she kindly responded and popped one in the post. Jane also told me in further communications that this feather boa was the only piece of her collection to be donated to St Wilfrid’s.
I like to think that somehow fate brought me and Constance Tomkinson (what a wonderful name!) together via this incredible piece of fashion history and that her showgirl legacy could live on through me. Jane also told me how Constance’s handbag has been to Revival many times on the arms of friends which just makes me so happy that these pieces still get to see the light of day, or in my case, under stage lights for all to see.”
If Dawn’s story has inspired you to go hunting for some vintage treasures, then why not visit your local St Wilfrid’s Hospice charity shop and see what high-quality, pre-loved items you can find? Who knows, you might also find a piece of fashion history.