The first time I found out that Lucie Johnson was a clothing collector, she offered to loan me a fancy hat for our neighborhood Kentucky Derby Party. At the party, I discovered that five other ladies were wearing hats from Lucie as well. All came from the double closets in Lucie’s villa where for the past 20 years she has kept elegant clothing from her parents and grandparents—even from a cousin and a great aunt who was a clothing designer.
Each piece is in pristine condition. The signature article might be a small lace blouse with crystal buttons. As Lucie points out, “There’s not a machine stitch on it.” Or perhaps it would be the bolero-style riding jacket her grandmother wore. She has her great grandmother’s mourning veil, made for the funeral of her son in 1857; her father’s Knights Templar Commander’s hat adorned with ostrich feathers, her grandfather’s brown top hat; and the cape and patterned silk dress her great aunt bought in Italy to attend the opera.
In conversation with Susan Gaca, architect of our Downton Meadows folly, I mentioned my disappointment that over the years we had not found a way for the community to see Lucie’s collection. Susan said, “Let’s go see her and if she offers to let us, we’ll do it!” And so we have, with help from many heads and hands. Selected pieces from the collection will be on display in the Lobby for one very special occasion: the September Birthday Dinner.
My suggestion: Dress up and wear a hat!