Claire D. Tankel
1948, Cambridge, Mass.


She was wearing all black. Black cotton stockings and black
nurses’ shoes. Black sweater and skirt. She said she bought everything in her Brooklyn Italian neighbor store. Mourning clothes.
That changed my life. Changed the way I looked at clothes and the people who wear them.
Before, I was from “Westchester,” Mount Vernon, New York. I was considered well dressed. I went to the University of Michigan and I was still looked upon as well dressed, fashionable. Cashmere sweaters, pleated skirts, and pearls, a modest strand of pearls. Sometimes for special occasions I wore designer clothes- formals by Ceil Chapman and definitely clothes designed by Claire McCardle, which my mother and I traveled to the Bronx Loehmann’s [two n’s okay?] to buy.
How one dresses and decides what to wear is so much dictated by the people around ua; the newspapers and magazines we read; the films we see; the culture we live in. It is a language. It communicates to others who we are and the way we think.
That day in Cambridge I began to see differently.
Lucia’s clothing was a reflection of the little money she had to spend, the neighborhood her family grew up in--and most important, the influence of art, music, literature, and politics on her life. In love with Italy, Garibaldi, Botticelli, and Silone’s Bread and Wine.
She was an Artist. She studied with Joe Soloman [sp?] as well as Rufino Tamayo. Remember him as part of the Mexican fresco movement. Her colors reflected the influences--pinks, blues, and golds.
She was more critically aware of the politics of the times than I was.