Christening Gown

In Attire

Out of the many gowns I have worn throughout my life, I have never looked better than in the one passed down to me by my great-grandmother. Located in the heart of Cali, Colombia, Melba Ocampo was a fashion designer during Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror. The people lived in fear of violence, since Escobar’s drug cartel had a grasp on the entire country. Despite his power, my great-grandmother had her own company called “Melba Fashions,” where she organized runway shows for the clothing she made. Everything was made by hand and modeled during her presentations. However, my christening gown was not paraded around at a gallery. Instead, Melba crafted the gown as a gift for my mother for her baptism. Not only did she make her gown, she made her communion dress as well as a bikini, neither of which were passed down to me. My mother dressed me in her gown with hopes that it will be passed down for generations to come, allowing Melba’s legacy to live on. Regarding her company, my great-grandmother is now 81 and has been living with Alzheimer's. Due to the language barrier, my mom was able to recall memories of attending the Fashion Show Expo with her grandmother. My great-grandmother opened up a whole new world to my mother, allowing her to indulge herself in all the rising trends at the time. Likewise, Melba gave me a sense of appreciation for the fashion industry, and the silver lining found in every historical hardship. From an assisted living home in Colombia, to the suburbs of Dix Hills, Melba Ocampo´s clothing outlined a legacy that will never be forgotten.

Place(s): Colombia
Year: 1965

– Kevin Devine

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more