Tags: clothing design

A Stitch in Time

This one-act play was created to be part of an exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Florida, entitled Stitching History from the Holocaust. The exhibit includes dresses made from the design sketches of Hedwig Strnad, a Jewish woman seeking asylum in the U.S. in 1939. Hedwig and her husband Paul Strnad were living in Prague. Paul Strnad wrote to his cousin Alvin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to obtain an affidavit to help him and his wife escape the onslaught of Nazi Germany. Paul sent Alvin sketches of Hedwig’s clothing designs, in the hopes that these examples of her work would provide evidence of their financial independence. Despite Alvin’s best efforts to obtain visas for the couple, Paul and Hedy perished in the Holocaust. Years later, the sketches were discovered by Alvin’s family members, and, thanks to the efforts of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Hedy’s drawings were brought to life. Her designs were the height of fashion for 1939, but the clothing also provides a small, yet telling window into the lives of Jews in Prague on the eve of World War II. They also attest to the dynamism of the Prague fashion industry before the Holocaust and reflect the styles of designers in the fashion centers of Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The play A Stitch in Time, which brings the Strnad’s story to life, was commissioned by the Jewish Museum of Miami and includes the dresses created for the exhibit.