It was Virginia Calamello, who first introduced me to Georgia O’Keefe. During college in Ohio, I worked for her at Tony’s Music and Gifts, the shop she co-owned with her husband. Tony Calamello was a musician from the Big Band days and his half of the shop had dusty bins of music and a linoleum floor. He repaired instruments in the back room. The other half of the store — the larger half, mind you — had pink shag carpet and this was Virginia’s domain. Fine gifts and greeting cards filled the glass shelves, and we prided ourselves on our beautiful gift-wrapping. Virginia wore Anne Klein suits and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. She was a force — Tony half-jokingly called her “Madam Queen” — and she was one of my first role models. For my graduation in 1986 she gave me the beautiful pale blue wine glasses I coveted from the store and my first fine art coffee table book. It was about the work and life of Georgia O’Keefe, who became yet another role model. It was Tony and Virginia who encouraged me to be brave and to move to New York when the unexpected opportunity arose. For that I will always be grateful.
Fast-forward to 2017. I dashed to the Brooklyn Museum during the last hours of the last day of Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern. I felt a strong urge to see it, if not only for myself, but to honor Virginia’s memory. She would have absolutely loved the exhibit — Georgia also wore Ferragamo shoes (!) — and I loved seeing it with Virginia’s eyes. It was a thrill to see how carefully cultivated and curated Georgia’s style was. She owned just enough, and not too much. She was a skilled seamstress, and the pieces she wore the most were carefully repaired. I was also delighted to see that Georgia rocked her scarves — as did Virginia, naturally!
Do any of you have have a fashion icon you admire? Please share with us in the comments so that we can all be inspired!
Check out my original hand-painted silk scarves here at VictoriaBDesignShop on Etsy.