The Rap on the Wrap Dress

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mag cover
They all wore it. In the White House, in movies, in the board room, on the runway, in Studio 54, during the 1970’s and even today. Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress has been spotted on the likes of Cybill Shepherd, Kate Hudson, Michelle Obama, the Olsen twins, Susan Sarandon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, Kendall Jenner and Jerry Hall to name just a few. Even I wore it in the 1990’s. I remember as a young businesswoman, that the Continue reading →

Eli and Evan Foltyn

Eli and Evan Foltyn

One by one each stood up, straight, hoping to stay calm and collected as they told their story. Eli was first among our family members to share a passage from “his story”. His words were specific and painful as he spoke of fear and terror. At only 4’ 6” and 70 pounds in size, and the jokester in our family, I never realized Eli even had the capacity to think of these feelings—let alone find the words to tell this somber story. Profound sadness was also shared as he read of the loss of an older and highly admired big brother and best friend. He used devastating words as he recited a passage. Continue reading →

“The first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.

– Phaedrus

———

On the heels of my last postVictims of Fashion, I received many emails  and comments from readers. Some were overwhelmed by the shocking resemblance of the Celine trench coat I displayed to the uniforms worn by Holocaust prisoners. In addition to the pale, almost dingy, vertical stripes of the trench coat, readers were shaken by the dark hair, pale skin and gaunt features of the model and the stark flat black shoes in which she stood that so closely favored the appearance of inmates. “Could this really be a coincidence?” readers inquired.

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(left) Holocaust Prisoner Uniform. (right) Celine trenchcoat.

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Victims of Fashion

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The past couple months have been busy for those consumed by fashion. Top buyers, models, celebrities, fashion journalists, art or photography enthusiasts and fashionistas were all entranced by  the excitement surrounding recent international haute couture extravaganzas. Paris was the last stop on a four-city circuit of major Fashion Week shows which started in New York and moved to London and then Milan. In each, Fashion Week is a seven-day enticement to fashion which includes the most elite runway shows, meetings with designers and all night parties. The models strutting the catwalk wore clothing for Fall/Winter 2016/2017. By all measures the designs were beautiful and refined with curated details.

Balmain Fall/Winter 2016/2017 – Paris.

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What About Her?

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  • Elyse Foltyn
  • March 17, 2016
  • General

 

Mom, Helen Goldin, 18 years old

Perhaps Mom surrendered to her raw feelings and avowed to follow Emily Dickinson’s 1862 proclamation, “The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care.” How else could you explain an American Jewish woman marrying a Holocaust Survivor, knowing her future would surely be colored by the scars of his painful experiences? I have been thinking about this since visiting my Mom in the cemetery last month and still have not come to any conclusion.

Mom’s birthday was several weeks ago. She died on my birthday nearly eight years ago and Continue reading →

Breaking the Silence

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  • Elyse Foltyn
  • February 12, 2016
  • General

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The message was all too familiar to me by now. I could feel the knots in her stomach as she shared her feelings of humility, disgust and embarrassment and spoke of the horrific torture she miraculously survived. Like so many others before her, she said she resisted sharing her story because she did not want to return to that painful place in her mind and watch the brutality play out again and again. Nor did she want to upset those closest to her in her life. As the great civil rights activist and poet Maya Angelou has said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

However, this time I was not interviewing a Holocaust survivor or child of a survivor.  I was not meeting with the offspring of an Armenian or Chaldean genocide survivor. Surely she had not endured the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. Her fair skin looked even more like ivory as it was complemented by her blonde flowing locks. This young woman more closely resembled a Beach Boys’ surfer girl than the survivors whom I have grown accustomed to interviewing around the world. At 31 years old, Erin Merryn was in town speaking as a survivor of sexual abuse. Continue reading →

More on Branding

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  • Elyse Foltyn
  • January 27, 2016
  • General
A bolt of fabric of “Jude” stars which will later be cut into individual stars and worn by Jews during the Holocaust.

A bolt of fabric of “Jude” stars which will later be cut into individual stars and worn by Jews during the Holocaust.

In my last post, I addressed “branding”. The branding of a company….the branding of a logo…and the impossible to imagine, branding of a person. All of this brought to mind a dear friend and a Holocaust survivor I interviewed 18 months ago. Theresienstadt (Terezin) Holocaust survivor, Ela Weissberger, was never officially branded. Although she wore a yellow star of David with the word “Jude” (German translation for Jew) on it, carried and was referred to by the number on her identification card, she never had a number tattooed on her body. In fact, when you initially speak with Ela, she barely seems as if she was pained by the Holocaust at all. As Ela speaks, she is upbeat, optimistic and embraces all facets of our world—even those that bereaved her. Perhaps that is what is most remarkable about this pint-sized woman. Continue reading →

Compelling

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  • Elyse Foltyn
  • January 14, 2016
  • General

So different but so much the same. This compelling piece of art drew me in and stopped me in my tracks. The vision of this powerful, athletic black man “branded” with a Nike swoosh harkened a connection to my past. Although there was nothing remotely similar about the unidentifiable head of this man compared to those of relatives that preceded me and of whom I have only seen in photos, I felt a kinship with this figure. The black and white 2003 photograph by artist, Hank Willis Thomas, was both provocative and evocative.

Branded Head, 2003, by Hank Willis Thomas

Branded Head, 2003, by Hank Willis Thomas

I became lured in by this digital chromatic print hanging on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of its current exhibition, 30 Americans: A showcase of contemporary art by 30 African American artists. I was taken by this artwork that focused on racial, gender, political and historical issues in our culture. The 50 works of art, with many overlapping themes were each impressionable in their own way. The fact that they were now hanging on the pristine walls of our coveted Continue reading →

They All Showed Up

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  • Elyse Foltyn
  • January 1, 2016
  • General

As our girls stepped up on the bima to embrace and chant from the Torah for their very first time, they seemed different. Although, to me, Abby’s and Lily’s faces have remained the same since the day they were born, as have their respective approaches to life, on this magnificent morning, something changed. The shapes of their faces had matured and—they were not quite as girlish as they seemed to be only days earlier. Cheekbones peeked out and deep dimples softened. Beautiful still, with flawless porcelain skin glowing and beachy wavy hair revealing only a memory of summer’s blonde highlights.The wavering ear-to-ear smile worn by each girl affirmed both their self-confidence and the butterflies that fluttered within them as they anticipated what lay ahead. It was clear they had already begun to transition into adulthood even before they welcomed this sacred Jewish tradition of becoming B’not Mitzvah (when more than one girl celebrates her Bat Mitzvah) and followed in the footsteps of so many men and women before them.

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Everybody we loved came to Abby and Lily’s B’not Mitzvah. Each person at Temple Beth El was important to the girls, including their dearest friends and relatives who are mission critical in our lives. Those who have passed were ever-present in spirit. Most certainly, the well deserved “air-time” that Abby and Lily shared with these deceased family and friends brought them back to life….every bit as much as those sitting in the sanctuary itself. It felt as if Continue reading →

Losing Air

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  • Elyse Foltyn
  • December 20, 2015
  • General

 

blog1I was wound up tight. Prepared to defend my daughter, protect the memory of Lily’s grandparents and offer a psychological history lesson all in one conversation. I was not going to let Lily’s teacher’s insensitivity towards our family history go unchecked. I felt it was my duty, moreover my obligation, to meet with Lily’s teacher and open her eyes and her heart to those raised in families that have experienced traumatic loss. Knowing this otherwise kind teacher as I have over the years, I could not believe that her impervious questions directed at Lily were malicious. I did not think she intended to upset or embarrass Lily as she did in front of her classmates. Nor did I suspect she anticipated the phone calls I received from parents of Lily’s classmates who learned from their own children of Lily’s classroom pain. Although I gave Lily’s teacher the benefit of the doubt, I felt the need to set her straight.

It was clear Lily’s teacher detected from my email requesting a meeting to revisit the events of the day that I was seriously concerned. She came prepared with notes and the head of school. Not even their unified and well-mannered offer to serve me a cup of coffee or tea could pacify me. No pleasantries for this mother and daughter of a Holocaust survivor….I was resolute to begin this battle. My demeanor was consciously calm on the outside, with a measured cadence to my words. However, inside, I was fuming. This mama bear was ready to roar. Continue reading →

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