SHORELINE Pat Erickson’s closet is more full than it was one year ago when she organized her first vintage fashion show to raise money for finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. But despite her vast collection, Erickson knew precisely what to pack to wear at the Michael J. Fox Most Valuable People Awards dinner before she left for New York City on May 1.
“I got the dress from a woman who wore it in New York in the 1940s,” Erickson said while holding a black, lacy dress on April 25. “I told her, ‘Your dress is going back to New York.’ I’m going to have to send her a picture.”
Erickson, who is nicknamed “Pinky,” was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about six years ago. Not many people knew about the diagnosis until she combined her passion for vintage clothing with her desire to raise money for a cure for Parkinson’s and organized “Pinky’s Passion for Fashion” in April 2007.
A year later, Erickson says she has just about tripled her vintage wardrobe. She brings her clothing, hats and tea cups to birthday parties, luncheons and wedding showers in exchange for contributions to The Michael J. Fox Foundation. She’s learning how to mend clothes based on a book from the 1940s. And along with her friend, Lise Husted, she has formed a nonprofit organization called “Pinky’s Passion for Fashion.”
“I think we’ve accomplished a fair amount in a year,” Erickson said.
Her clothes are now representative of the 1910s to the 1980s. Her collection of wedding dresses continues to grow, she said, and now includes photos of bridal parties from as early as the 1880s. As her wardrobe has expanded, so has her interest in vintage clothing and the people who wore the clothes.
“My goal is to not only find out about the clothes but the people who wore them,” she said. “It’s fun to find out what the people were like who wore these clothes. That’s my other passion now.”
Erickson will organize a fashion show at Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park sometime in October, she said, and invite guests from the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center.
“I really want to connect with some of the seniors,” she said.
Executive director of Friends of Third Place Commons, Constance Perenyi, supports bringing Erickson’s fashion show to the Commons.
“We are expecting people from senior centers all over the Seattle area to come to the show,” Perenyi said. “The focus will be in fashion but we will certainly be able to do some education about Parkinson’s as well.”
Erickson plans to hold the second “Pinky’s Passion for Fashion” after the event at Third Place Commons. In the meantime, she’ll work on helping the nonprofit grow and learn more about fashion from clothing labels, photos, old Sears catalogs and of course, the people who wore the clothes.
One recent discovery helped her learn more about an imitation fur coat that is part of her collection. She found a description of the coat by chance while looking through a Sears catalog and found out it’s from 1912.
“It’s just a perfect description,” she said. “I didn’t think it was that old.”