Ryann Foulke is a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She is currently studying abroad in London at the University of Westminster. She interns at W magazine.
"I had just turned 16 one month before my grandmother died. She is the one to blame for my addiction to all things fashion-related. My grandmother was a dress buyer and my grandfather was a textile designer, so you can imagine that I was a well-dressed child. For me, outings with my grandmother would include not the park or zoo, but rather Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. We became regulars at the shoe department, greeted by the same salesman every time. Sometimes, my grandfather would come along, too, and on those trips, they would scour the store for their favorite dresses, using me as their model. The top three picks were 'lucky' and found their way home with me.
"This all changed the summer my grandmother died. Suddenly, browsing Louis Vuitton with Starbucks in hand (Venti Iced Caramel Apple Spice) and trying on makeup at the MAC counter seemed like a lifetime ago.
"After a few birthdays and Chrismukkahs without her, my grandfather decided, once again, it was time to go shopping. He came up to visit my family in Connecticut and brought me to one of my favorite vintage stores, Tova’s in Old Saybrook. He cautiously let me pick out whatever I wanted — the only catch being that I had to model it. This was a huge success, made both of us very happy, and has now become our new old tradition.
"Over the years, I have amassed quite the vintage collection. Every day, at least one thing on me is vintage, be it one of my great-grandmother’s costume jewelry or a pair of leather loafers. But there is one item that stands out from the rest.
"I had initially seen the black, silk chiffon vintage Yves Saint Laurent shift dress in the store about six months prior, when it was way out of my price range. I swear I had dreams about it. Fast-forward to the holidays, and magically, it was still there, this time discounted. The search was over; the dress was coming home with me.
"Although it looked tiny on the hanger, to my surprise, it fit (just barely). It is my Breakfast at Tiffany's dress, except it's YSL instead of Givenchy. I don’t know how someone could have given the dress up, but if the day comes when it doesn’t fit me, I'll have it framed and hung on my wall.
"Most importantly — and both my mother and grandfather agree — my grandmother would have loved it. When I do wear this masterpiece of a dress, the slightest tinge of sadness comes over me, but that's also why it means so much to me."