Find the fashion lover in this photo: An easy task, given that my wonderful grandma Angela Zayshley is front-and-centre sporting a black-and-white dress, flat shoes and her trademark bright red hair. She is standing next to my grandpa and my dad on his wedding day. You can see tell-tale signs that this picture was taken in a small Saskatchewan town, from the festively decorated car with a plastic swan on the roof, to the expansive sky, to the grain elevator looming in the background.
I guess you could say my grandmother—she refused to be called “baba,” the typical name for a Ukrainian matriarch—went against the grain. Her husband was a working man who preferred to live on his farm; my dad was a sort of Rockabilly guy replete with sideburns wearing a... what kind of collar is that? But my grandma was pure glamour. Even with a limited budget and not much access to great shopping, she turned out Fifth Avenue-worthy looks no matter what the occasion. Her sense of colour and adventure was truly original. It wasn’t odd to see her wearing hot pinks, glaring yellows and shimmering golds—maybe even in the same outfit. We’d often scratch our heads and wonder, “where did she buy that?”
I have always been enthralled with her love of fashion and she inspires me to dress well every day. Many other people found her form of self-expression irresistible, too; however, several of her fellow small-town residents didn’t understand it. She dressed elegantly to replicate on the outside her inner joy and love of life; I don’t think many people around her loved life as much as she did.
My Grandma Zayshley just turned 93 this year. She still has red hair, and she still lives alone, keeping herself busy by caring for her immense wardrobe. If I were to knock on her door right now she would most definitely be wearing an unexpectedly chic ensemble. I once asked her who inspires her to dress the way she does. Her reply? “Me.” A true original.
Here are some more of my favorite pictures of my grandma:
This is my grandma and me Christmas 2008
This is a painting I did of my grandma. She's a saint to me.