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By: Mike Mills

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I need a time machine.

That I have classy grandparents is something that can be said without a doubt. Although my dad's father is no longer with us, I can still recall that both him and my grandmother from that side always paid a great effort in looking chic and elegant. No wonder my dad loves to groom and style his outfits - in a very manly way, that must be said.

My mums parents have a true fashion background, as I've mentioned in one of my earlier blogposts as well. My granddad comes from a family that started earning money with selling fabrics, somewhat before the Second World War. However, my great grandfather lost everything during those years of war, and had to rebuild his entire life and company after it. He had to start from scratch - yet again. My grandfather, who then looked like a Hollywood movie star fell head over heels in love with my grandmother, a true looker herself. They were only 21 when they married. It has proven to be true love, as they are still mad about each other. They always read my posts, and I know that this time too they're probably arguing over something silly, but deep in their eyes such a deep eternal love for each other is settled, that it gives me hope and fills me with joy. Anyhow, let's not get sentimental, as this was not at all what I wanted to write about today. My mums parents may be very happy and in love, they were also - and still are - extremely stylish.

After the war, my great granddad rebuild his fabric company, expanding it a little, which resulted in a  boutique of womens hosiery in The Hague. My granddad gradually worked his way into the top of the fashion industry and turned the store into a womenswear boutique. He met Salvatore Ferragamo in Firenze, had meetings at the Gucci headquarters and was invited into Pucci's private palazzo for some champagne and some partying - the glamourous ones, how they did it in the 60s and 70s. Italian fashion started to rise in those years, and it was at that time that my grandfather started to run a successful business that even led to having the Dutch Royals as one of his customers.
My grandmother posing in her bathing suit
and pumps at the beach - 50s
After 40 years my grandfather decided to sell his business. With much pain in his heart he retired and started to enjoy a life that seemed less stressful; however, neither one of my grandparents ever lost their passion for fashion. When the company was sold I was only 11 years old, unfortunately too young to understand anything (I was not like Tavi Gevinson, I guess...) about fabrics, cuts and fits, although I did know there were certain items that were not nearly as special as other pieces. I wasn't allowed to enter the basement area of the boutique for example, I later learned that this was where Valentino and Dior were sold. And so when my mum had some business to attend and took me with her, I either hung around the atelier, while chatting with the "les petits mains" - to quote Kaiser Karl - or I was leaning on the white leather couches (it was the 90s!), completely silent and hypnotised: I gasped at the amazing dresses women were trying on while their husbands were drinking bubbles and smoking cigars. Whenever I read about Chanel, it reminds me of those years. Obviously I was way to young to fully grasp the idea of what was going on, and no doubt I have made it much bigger in my fantasies, but the glamourous 20s vibe was definitely still alive in my grandparent's boutique.

Whenever I am at their house for dinner or just a random visit, I wander around and look at all the black and white photo's; my grandmother posing in a typical 50s bathing suit at the beach, wearing her pumps, or the both of them striking a pose with their ski's while looking all styled to perfection. They fill me with inspiration and ambition, and although I cannot lift on the contacts that my granddad once established in the international fashion industry - unfortunately -, I know I will make it there once too.

[Please do not take any of the above described lifestyle as a form of bragging, I merely want to describe an era in time with the right sentimental feel to it.]

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