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My Mother's Clothes Hardcover – March 16, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Photographs from My Mother's Clothes

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Bill Blass Chester Weinberg Maud Frizon

Norma Kamali Oscar de la Renta Ralph Lauren


"There is a desire on the part of many photographers to examine their lives through the cataloguing and documenting of familial objects. Jeannette Montgomery Barron has a body of work, My Mother's Clothes, that has resonated with the photography and the fashion worlds, and with the offspring of women with a strong sense of style. My Mother's Clothes...represents a universal approach to understanding a parent through the choices they made about their wardrobes, and the evocative details and sensory traces that are left behind."
-Aline Smithson, Lenscratch

"[My Mother's Clothes] is a heartwarming, daughter-to-mother love letter that belongs on every fashionista's bookshelf...thoughtful and chic."
—Rachel Zoe, The Zoe Report

“Sumptuously shot and rich in color and texture...each of the photographs is accompanied by a short statement – anecdotes, memories, and family history – that Barron shares about her mother, weaving together the story of a strong, refined Southern dame.”
Eliza Honey, The New Yorker

“Between the photos, shot against unexpected backgrounds (a Persian rug, a sunlit window, a field of grass), and Ms. Barron’s straightforward, unsentimental prose, the book brings the clothes and the woman who wore them back to vivid life...a transporting read.”
Ralph Gardner, Jr., The Wall Street Journal

"...Montgomery Barron has provided a portrait, not just of the arc of a life, but a place, a time. It could not be a more evocative book."
-Caroline Reynolds Milbank, 1stDibs.com

"...dives deeper into the memories that are attached to clothes. Barron photographed garments chosen from her mother's closet. Each dress, blazer, slip or swimsuit became a still life. Sometimes the garments were shot against a backdrop of plain fabric; sometimes they were laid out in the snow; sometimes they just seemed to float. She searches for personality,character, perhaps even a little bit of life spirit."
-Robin Givhan, The Washington Post
"Clothes become shorthand for experiences, and powerful triggers of memories. In Jeannette Montgomery Barron's series of photographs and written recollections, it becomes that much harder to claim that fashion is mere triviality. In some cases, it is life itself."
-Alexandra Marshall, T, The New York Times Style Magazine

"An extraordinary biography, created through 100 color photographs of clothing, shoes and handbags, plus all the portraits of Eleanor, the mother of Jeannette Montgomery Barron, author of My Mother's Clothes."
-Vanity Fair Italia

"Montgomery Barron has created a small gem of a book, which is both an homage to her mother and a reminder to take the time to savor what's special about those we love."
Marigny Dupuy, The New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Barron captures [the clothes] in a way that gives them character, charm, personality. Juxtaposing texture and pattern, and alternating between casual composition and formal portraiture, she showcases the clothes, shoes and handbags in a manner as quirky as the collection...Through this charming little book of images and succinct commentary, she has found a way to honor her mother that suits them both.”
--Michelle Jones, Dallas Morning News

"Anyone who has a relative with Alzheimer’s can relate to photographer/author Jeannette Montgomery Barron’s new book,My Mother’s Clothes."
-Christina Mitchell, Courier-Post

“[My Mother’s Clothes] is a must read for every daughter and people who are confronted directly or not with Alzheimer’s...full of energy and hope.”
Delphine Hervieu, Swide Magazine 

"A charming and fashion-packed 'album of memories.' Eleanor Morgan Montgomery Atuk was obviously an incredible and beloved woman, who most certainly had exquisite taste in clothes. I absolutely adored it."
-Lisa Smilor, Associate Executive Director, Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

"Clothes are ultimately ephemeral. Good books aren’t. Jeannette Montgomery Barron has engineered a small bit of alchemy - her mother...lives on in these pages."
-Jesse Kornbluth, HeadButler.com

"A poignant journey through time and memory uncovers the roots of a beautiful mother-daughter relationship." Cesare Cunaccia, Vogue Italia.
-Cesare Cunaccia, Vogue Italia

"This book is a tenderhearted tribute to her mother, an interesting look back at fashion of the mid-twentieth century, and an intriguing way for readers to think about memory."
-Foreword magazine

“Barron creates an inspiring and true story about the connection between fashion and memory.”
-Ablemarle Magazine

"My Mother's Clothes has a beautiful light touch, ultimately life-affirming in the face of a terrible disease. It almost feels like a travel memoir where one is transported to another time and a charmed place - where good deeds, gracious manners, and impeccable taste prevails."
-Ralph Gardner Jr, contributor to the New York Times, Daily Beast and Huffington Post

"My Mother's Clothes: An Album of Memories comes from a photographer who creates a fine portrait and memoir of her late mother through her clothing and personal possessions.  Her visual album was intended to spark her mother's memories as her Alzheimer's progressed - and became both a memorial and art work celebrating her mother's love for exquisite clothes.  Recommended for art and general library holdings alike!"
-California Bookwatch

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Books (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599620774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599620770
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the fashion Olympics, Eleanor Morgan Montgomery Atuk was a Gold Medalist. She was born with more taste than money. Then she married a successful businessman, and her collecting began. She was beautiful to begin with --- one year, she was praised for "the best legs" in Atlanta --- and the clothes she bought enhanced her beauty, and on top of all of that was her personality, which was effervescent in the extreme.

Wire hangers? Never. Ellie had museum-quality closets. She took inventory often, adding to her collection the way an aesthete might buy art. Then her husband left her --- for a Playboy bunny, yet --- and wasn't it lucky that she had Bill Blass and other designers to fill some of that gap.

Ellie's daughter, Jeannette Montogomery Barron, is a noted photographer. When her mother started losing her memory --- "It was like watching Sandy Koufax lose his pitching arm," Jeannette's husband has recalled --- Jeannette discovered that she still had a firm grip on her closet. All they had to do was stand near a dress or a jacket, and the memories would flood in, and Ellie would tell a story --- a brilliant, stylish personal story, a story only she could tell.

Jeannette lived in Rome, her mother in Charlottesville, Virginia. After each visit to her mother, Jeannette would take a few pieces back to Italy, scout around for the right fabric to use as background, and immortalize a fraction of her mother's collection. She did this again and again, and even when Ellie developed Alzheimer's, she could still identify each piece, where she'd worn it and what she did that day.

Now there is My Mother's Clothes, "an album of memories.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The loss of any loved one is painful, but the loss of one's mother, the earthly severance from the primal connection to our source of being, is profoundly shattering. Since we are given virtually no guide for dying and death, we cope in various, sometimes surprising, ways.

The origin of this book was the serendipitous discovery of a way to retrieve the increasingly fading memory of the author's mother via her lifelong love of clothes, but to regard it as simply a catalogue of fashion and of one woman's exquisite collection would be a mistake. Rather, the clothes became a provocative and creative vehicle for a daughter to hold onto her mother for just as long as possible. It is through those material objects that she, unknowingly, embarked on that mysterious journey for which few of us are equipped--the earthly release of a loved one. It is through those outfits and personal effects that she was able to cope with pain and fear, to live among the ever-present reminders of mortality. It is through those talismans that the author reached a deeper understanding of her mother-and of herself. Focusing full energy on what became an intimate dance of sorts between herself and her mother, she sparked her mother's memory with favored outfits and recorded her comments, then meticulously--and uniquely--photographed them. The dance continued until the life and spirit of her mother were captured on paper and, wondrously, the source of great anguish and immense pain became the source of joy.

This book is a gift. It's a generous and acutely sensitive account of creative survival and growth through doing the unthinkable--letting one's mother go.
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I too have taken photos and written about my moms clothes and other items. It is a great thing to do for any relative you have loved so the memory of them lives on for future generations that did not get to know them. That is what this book inspired me to do. Beautiful photos and writing. One of my favorites.
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Format: Hardcover
My obsession with clothes started when I was a kid and my greatest passion was going to thrift stores to find
vintage clothes from any time up until the sixties. I loved how they transported me to another world, another time.
Every time I went to visit my Grandma Eldora in Lewiston Idaho I spent hours going through her clothes. I was
disappointed though that they were only from the 70's onward and that she did not have all of her clothes, dating back to the 20's. I felt an enormous loss and could not understand why on earth she had gotten rid of those lovely clothes that I saw in the old photos. Now I understand that one has to deal with a changing figure and space in the closet, as well as things wearing out. My grandmother did have one dress that went back to the 50's, an imitation of Marilyn's famous dress from Some Like it Hot. I still have that dress though I cannot wear it, and feel that I will never be able to give it up for it contains an essence of my Grandmother who has now passed away and whom I miss so much.

Jeannette Montgomery Barron's new book My Mother's Clothes delves into the secret world revealed by clothes and
how they relate to the person who wore them- her mother. The combination of her mother's passion for designer clothes
and how Jeannette photographs them opens up a world of memories for her, including past events, scents, and reminiscences that bring to life an image of her mother's life. Since she started photographing her mother's clothes while she was still alive but with Alzheimer's, the images which had become so vague for her mother as well came to life, triggered by memories of her own clothing and her passion for them.
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