It was New Year’s 1973 and Audrey Karpetz (then Zajac) has the perfect gown to hit the town in. 33 years later, I chopped the gown, lacking the height my mother was blessed with, and the dress was worn once more on my birthday in 2006. I called up my mom, who’s currently enjoying the Arizona sun, to discuss with her the how, where, and why this dress came and stayed in her life all these years.
SK – When did you buy the dress?
AK – I graduated from high school in ’71, from ’71 to ’72 I went to NAIT. November 1972. So I wore it New Year’s Eve 1972.
SK – Where did you go for New Year’s?
AK – The Chateau Lacombe downtown. It was a New Year’s Eve ball and a whole bunch of our friends were going but we didn’t buy tickets with everyone else. They were all sitting together and because we bought ours late, we had a table for two right on the dance floor. Our friends were at the back of the room.
SK – Who did you go with?
AK – My boyfriend Bill [pictured below]
SK – What made you attracted to the dress to begin with?
AK – It was beautiful. I saw it and I loved it. It was $125 and at that time I was making $320 a month clear so it was almost two weeks worth of wages.
SK – Where were you working?
AK – At The Bay
SK – And where was the dress from?
AK – The dress came from Eaton’s, the Signature Room at Eaton’s.
SK – So that’s today’s equivalent of The Room at Hudson’s Bay?
AK – Like the Mirror Room at The Bay but the Eaton’s version.
[Note the Mirror Room was the 70s version of today’s The Room]
SK – Wasn’t there some sort of problem when you purchased the dress?
AK – Yes. The dress was $125, which was really expensive at the time. Most dresses were $20-$30. They only had one so I put it on layaway and every two weeks when I got paid I went to put money down on it. Maybe $10 or $15 a time. I was going to have it all paid off for Christmas. When I finished paying for it, I went to go pick it up and they didn’t have it. The sales associate, she was an older lady, she was miserable and kept giving me the impression that I shouldn’t be shopping there. That kind of attitude where they make you feel like you don’t belong. So there’s no dress, but I want my dress because they’ve taken all my money for two months. They found one in Montreal and had to ship it in. I believe it was actually a size larger, they had to get a seamstress to fit the dress to me.
SK – Did they apologize?
AK – No. The lady was not very nice.
SK – Did you ever end up wearing anywhere else?
AK – I was thinking about that. Probably to a wedding or something.
SK – Did anything happen the night you wore it for the first time?
AK – I had fun [laughs]
SK – What made you keep all these years?
AK – I kept most of my long gowns. I just really liked long dresses.
SK – There was nothing specific about it that made you want to keep it?
AK – No. It was a dressy dress and I thought it was beautiful, so I kept it.
SK – How did you feel when I got it altered?
AK – It didn’t matter. It’s better to wear it and use it than to let it rot.
SK – How did you feel when you saw me wear the dress and it had a second life?
AK – I thought it was great. I thought you looked good in it…. of course I looked better [laughs] What can I say?
SK – Well you were taller! [laughs] Do you still like the dress?
AK – Absolutely. It’s a timeless piece. Its 40 some years later and it still looks current and appropriate.
I’d like to note that I could not find a good photo of myself wearing it where I wasn’t either pulling a ridiculous face or sitting/standing next to a person who is no longer in my life. These two shots were the best of the bunch.
In my new feature Wore Stories, I will be interviewing family and friends on garments that have touched their lives. This is something I’ve always been interested in, mostly because I have kept so many things that are no longer useful in my life and am constantly questioning myself why. Though, after watching Fish Griwkowsky purge his personal contents in the public eye via the Edmonton Journal this past month, I must admit I am inspired to downsize myself. (Check out his month long journey here).
In any case, hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s, preferably wearing a life changing outfit you won’t be able to part with for four decades! See you in 2016.