Florestine Dresses....Pendleton & Sumter

I was walking along Pendleton Street near the university when the wind whipped up and I saw an adorable young woman struggling to hang onto a rolling rack of dresses. A couple of ladies helped her keep the rack upright before I could dash over to assist. But what was she doing on the street in gale force winds with a rolling rack of dresses? It struck me as peculiar, since this isn't the garment district.
Then I realized these might be the magical Florestine dresses. I was on my way to the Indie Grits festival to see a film about them. Would the actual dresses be there too? Before I could think much longer, a woman wearing the most wonderful dress and shoes crossed the street ahead of me. I scurried to keep up with her.
At the corner, I finally caught a break. She paused, and I discovered that I had been trailing the pretty Laura Kissel, a filmmaker and professor at USC.
Together, we made our way to Town Theatre, where The Florestine Collection was to be screened. Outside, more ladies in dresses....
...including the mother of Helen Hill, the film's maker, on the far right in blue. Such charming frocks, I thought, then went inside to watch several of Ms. Hill's films, including the beguiling Tunnel of Love. I was certain that some of the dresses in the film were the same ones I'd seen on the women outside, Laura's included. Could it be? Indeed it was so, for they asked the women in the audience who were wearing the dresses to stand up.
The dresses were designed and hand sewn by Florestine Kinchen, a New Orleans woman. Ms. Hill had rescued them--more than 100--from a garbage heap. She wanted to know more about the woman, and that inspired her film. If you have the chance to see the film (finished by her husband after Ms. Hill's death) or the dresses, I do recommend you take it.


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