My favorite thing about vintage clothing and particularly vintage wedding gowns and dresses are the stories. Hearing daughters and granddaughters tell tale of their loved ones and learning about a human being's life from the threads that clothed their bodies. Mrs. Peter Leopold Hurst was born Frances Lanier, though I always knew her as an actress friend of Mother Dear's that everyone called Lannie. Not to be confused with MD's friend Lambie. Lannie passed away in 2010 and when the family was trying to figure out what to do with her wedding dress, our mutual family friend Suzanne (Portland is very small) immediately thought of AlexSandra's Vintage Emporium. I was lucky enough to get the ostrich feathers, but not the hat or belt she wore. Though we don't know the year Lannie was married despite a lengthy obituary in the Oregonian, her crepe backed satin dress feels like silk and is an ode to the style, quality of manufacture and materials available in the mid 1940s.
In 1967, Lannie began a campaign to save the Old Church, Portland's oldest church building on it's original site. She gathered together the community and found the resources and talent to buy, remodel and save this Old Portland treasure. By 1972 it was designated a national historic landmark. You can find out more about it here.
This is the beautiful Lannie Hurst Parlor, adjacent to the church and named in honor of Lannie, her initiative and efforts.
Once a month throughout the school year, The Portland Civic Theater Guild puts on 45-90 minute readings in front of the tremendous organ inside the Old Church. Mother Dear meets up with her actress pals from the past and afterward they head over to "The Mallory" to have lunch at Gracie's. A business (usually a local theater) sets up a display at the center table where they serve coffee and cookies before the performance. Occasionally I attend with MD and last April after advertising in the program the month before, The Guild asked me to bring my wares down to display and discuss my shop for a bit. Since this occurs in the Lannie Hurst Parlor, I thought it the perfect time to have my buddy and master era hairstylist, Kristen Behlings don Lannie's dress and share it with the ladies at The Guild.
I was really excited to get a picture of Kristen in Lannie's wedding dress in the Lannie Hurst Parlor.
This business causes one to contemplate the mortality of human beings on a regular basis. Things like this fill me with an abundance of emotions. To think that a dress might be the reason that people continue to talk about your life and achievements six or more years after your passing is an interesting thought. Reuniting a garment once filled with the flesh of a woman who did things for the betterment of the city of Portland with a building that would no longer exist if it weren't for this one person makes me happy. Sparking a memory of someone who has shuffled off this mortal coil with older people who may have a harder time remembering every day things, feels like giving a gift. Seeing a glow of recognition on an otherwise downward turned face is one of my favorite rewards in life.
Some of Lannie's best advice was on the subject of age. "I delight in my age," she said at 64. "I delighted in every age I have lived. Each has it's sense of marvelous treasures." We should all be so lucky.
Now this dress will become another woman's wedding ensemble. Who knows what she will go on to accomplish. All we know now is that she's going to have excellent taste. We can hope that she will be able to enjoy every age she lives. Find a gallery of studio photography of this dress below. Click on any to fill your screen with an image and click your way through. Find it for sale on Etsy here.