Blogging. A few years ago, I considered it to be a “cute hobby” for people with too much time on their hands, or for established professionals that were far more important than little old me. I probably had this limiting belief because I wasn’t very confident about my own abilities and knowledge. In 2009, I made my initial attempts at blogging after watching the movie Julie Julia. If someone could create a successful blog, book, and film about attempting to cook their way through a cookbook, what was my excuse? Blogging isn’t about being perfect. It’s not about having all the answers. Blogging is about sharing your passions, your struggles, your perspective in a unique way – with YOUR voice.
One of the things I am most grateful for that has resulted from my blog is working on The Stieg Collection. So much of cataloging and archiving a fashion collection is done in private. I’ve worked for Calvin Klein, which considers it’s archive a proprietary secret. Private clients are also mostly interested in safeguarding their privacy. And with many schools, publicly writing about anything on campus means jumping through endless hoops of approvals and revisions. The Baum School of Art gave me full creative vision in writing about The Stieg Collection.
The Stieg Collection. Image courtesy of The Baum School of Art.
Whenever I write, I pick topics that pull at my heartstrings. I never want to present anyone or anything in a bad or unfavorable light. I’m not into defaming or damaging people, companies, or objects. That is not how I operate as a person. To me, life is about pursuing your bliss. I want to fill every moment of my life with ideas, people, and work that I absolutely love. This is always the framework from which I operate while writing.
There is so much that I love about working on The Stieg Collection. First of all, just being able to look at and touch the wonderful racks of garments is pretty amazing. Researching and recording the history of the Utah Tailoring Mills has also been exhilarating. But learning about the Stieg family has been even better!
Jane and Robert Stieg, 1971. Image courtesy of The Baum School of Art.
Jane and Robert Stieg were high school sweethearts. They fell in love at age 16, married at age 22, and built a beautiful life together. They were married for 62 years and had two sons – both of whom I am so honored to have met “virtually” because of my blog! From the onset of working on this collection, I could tell that Jane and Robert were amazing people. They had great taste in clothing, and cared for everything meticulously. But this is just the surface level. Jane had passed away in 2004. Robert carefully cared for Jane’s belongings, hoping to donate them to a museum or school that would use them. Not only did Robert want to create a tribute to his wife, he wanted to make a philanthropic donation. He could have easily sold Jane’s clothing, or just have disposed of it. But he didn’t. He wanted the garments to be useful, and to tell a story.
Robert also recently passed away. I’m so sad that I never got a chance to speak with him myself. However, I do have the opportunity to speak with Jane and Robert’s sons. They have shared more information on their incredible parents. They’ve assured me that Jane and Robert never fell out of love. Robert Stieg Jr explained a bit more about the collection to me in a blog comment:
Monica, your blog posts are terrific, and I know both my mother and father would have enjoyed them tremendously. My mother loved wearing the clothes and my father made the gift of them in the hope that others would enjoy them and find them useful as they pursured their own paths.
Jane and Robert Stieg, 1994. Image courtesy of The Baum School of Art.
I always find clothing interesting and useful. But this is because they always tell a story. Clothing tells about the time period, the political conditions, social groups, and so much more. The ways that individuals amass a wardrobe also communicates their personal identity. I think that Jane Stieg’s wardrobe tells a great deal about her. She was classy, put together, and definitely took a lot of pride being Robert’s wife. Ironically enough, you can tell a lot about Robert by Jane’s clothing. He bought her the best he could afford, he wanted to make her happy, and saved the garments she loved so that her memory could live on. What could be more beautiful than that?
Many thanks to Phillip and Robert Stieg, The Baum School of Art, and Boyd Bingham! And remember, you can see objects from The Stieg Collection at our VINTAGE event! Buy your tickets soon, as there is a limited number available.