CHAPEL HILL, NC – It’s every fashionista’s dream – closets filled to the brim with stunning antique outfits and accessories. That dream is a reality for Lucie Jenkins-Johnson, an 88-year-old Carolina Meadows resident.
Scattered about Johnson’s home is an extensive collection of outfits and accessories dating back to as early as the mid 1800s. Her three bedroom closets are packed full of vintage items and have been for years. But on September 21, Johnson’s impressive assortment of antique clothing will be taken out of hiding and put on display at Carolina Meadows’ monthly birthday dinner.
“It brings back memories of when we all used to dress up,” Johnson said of her collection. “I think those of us that are my age, we lived in a different time where we really dressed up.”
Johnson says her love of fashion started at a young age watching her grandmother dress up for all sorts of occasions.
“I had a great role model,” Johnson explained. “When my grandmother was getting ready to go to the opera, she got herself a beautiful outfit to wear. And so I remember as a little girl playing with that. It gave me an appreciation of all things beautiful.”
White fabric wrap with matching fur-edged scarf
Layered dress with fur-lined cuffs and hem
This appreciation flourished into an extensive collection when Johnson inherited her grandmother’s clothes. Over the years, Johnson added many new pieces to the collection from resale and antique shops she visited, growing her stylish stockpile and her love for fashion.
“I just love pretty things. I’ve always loved gorgeous fabrics and they just don’t have fabrics like that anymore.”
Johnson said she was pleasantly surprised when Carolina Meadows organizers asked to use her antique clothing for the retirement community’s birthday dinner, a monthly gathering for residents celebrating their special day. Johnson gladly obliged, happy to share these memories with her fellow residents and younger generations at this month’s event, which is themed “fashion through the times.”
“I guess I’ve just taken it for granted and thought that everybody’s grandmother had a collection of outfits, and maybe they don’t,” Johnson said, adding that, “I’ve always heard that younger generations can learn from older generations and I’m several generations back.”
In addition to being shown at the community’s birthday dinner, a selection of Johnson’s antique outfits and accessories – ranging from elegant gowns, extravagant hats and Chanel shoes – will be on display for viewing by residents and the public in the Carolina Meadows lobby on Monday, September 21 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.