I will probably never make The Sartorialist myself, but I’m happy to say that my grandparents did.

Vintage Photo

This is a photo of my grandmother Irene and my grandfather Dmytro. It was taken in Kalush, Ukraine sometime in the late 1930′s or early 1940′s. My grandmother cared a lot about fashion and bragged more than once that she was the first woman in her village to wear pants.

– Anya

My grandmother really was fashionable. I’ve worn a particularly incredible dress of hers for the last three Halloweens. It’s a floor length, long sleeved gown that looks like a coat that would be worn by a character from Star Wars if Star Wars had characters who were, like, French, and members of the F.L.D.S. (Who, incidentally, I am kind of obsessed with – I love this NYT slideshow of F.L.D.S. women.)

Whenever I wear that dress, people stop me and ask about it. If I actually want to make The Sartorialist, I should probably start wearing it more than once a year. My grandmother clearly knew what was up.

UPDATE: My aunt commented on this photo with some actual authority. Terrible how little I remember/know about these things. I mean, I know all this stuff, but also…
I figure that this set of pictures was taken around 1936-1937, shortly after they were married.  Western Ukraine at that time was under Polish rule, and not part of Soviet Ukraine, where the Holodomor (famine) of 32/33 occurred. In 1939, however, the Soviets invaded, and life for Ukrainians changed under a whole new set of despotic rules.  In 1941, the Germans came.  More horrific chaos as the Germans and Russians fought on Ukrainian soil with Ukrainians in the crossfire; and the Poles and the Ukrainians were fighting their new occupiers and each other, sometimes in particularly brutal ways, and the Jews most specifically targeted by the Germans for annihilation.
Yes, that photo does capture the calm before the storm, your grandfather just launching a promising career after working so hard to get there, with his lovely and independent-minded  young wife…  only to have to leave in the dead of night a few years later with their 3 year old son (your father) and what they could hastily throw into a horse drawn cart, in order to escape certain death.  Yes, their world was totally turned upside down.  They had to start again – from nothing.  But they survived and remained strong and raised their family  – also to be independent minded – and you know the story from there!
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