I felt compelled to write about a small miracle that recently happened. As children, we never know what influences will impact the decisions and directions we take as adults. One of my most vivid memories as a child were of my mother’s youngest brother, Ferro Ettehadieh. At the age of 21, he was a young immigrant whose charm and great looks launched a career in the fashion industry. He opened an atelier called Chez Czar in Palm Beach on the Royal Poinciana Plaza. I remember going down to Florida to visit him (I was 10) and at the time, he was using gorgeous, vibrant silk jerseys that had huge, bold brush strokes. I had never seen or touched anything like it before and the most impressive part for me was that the fabric came from a faraway place called Lyon, France. This was in 1964 and Ferro had infused his Persian heritage into some of his designs. The “chador” landed him press in the January 20, 1967 issue of LIFE magazine and the February 15, 1967 issue of Vogue.
I remember how devilish & playful he was when he caused quite a stir when he came out with a topless bathing suit. He also created these short tunics with the abstract jerseys from Lyon- some with matching leggings. It would be decades later that I would learn that Rudi Gernreich also designed these items. I believe Ferro had the boutique for about 4 years and to this day, I honestly do not know who zoomed who.
As I grew up, Ferro continued to leave impressions on me with his amazing life; redirecting his life by buying hidden treasures of art, partying with Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in Morocco and moving back to Iran, where he was hired by the Shah to acquire priceless works of art to eventually open up a world class art museum. Then in 1979, the revolution brought him back to the States. He opened a trompe l’oeuil art gallery near the Met and partied with many of the young & beautiful. Sadly- in 1993, he passed away at the age of 51 from AIDS.
So now we come full circle. I have been deeply entrenched in the world of vintage fashion and in the 37 years I have been buying and selling tens of thousands of items. Recently, one of my favorite dealers from Texas – Steven Porterfield- brought a few racks of clothing for me to look at. I spotted some colors on one of the racks that stirred up an old memory and I immediately grabbed that piece to check it out. Unbelievable!! It was one of Ferro’s tunic & leggings WITH his label in it. It was a very emotional re-union and I called my mother to let her know.
Amazing how the echoes from the past have the lasting effects they do.