Woodstock Dress Reimagined

For Immediate Release

Date: May 5, 2019

Event: The Woodstock Dress Reimagined: Fashion Show and Afternoon Tea to Benefit the Historical Society of Woodstock

Time: 3pm – 5pm
Location: Christian Science Church, 85 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY

Contact: Debbie Heppner, 845-679-2143, 845-901-9741 vidicat12@yahoo.com

Augusta Allen, born in 1869 and raised as a child along the Ohio frontier, arrived in Woodstock, NY in 1913 with her husband, artist and entrepreneur, Willard Allen. Urged to make Woodstock their home by noted Woodstock artist Birge Harrison, the couple, upon their arrival, constructed a remarkable three-story home known as Allencrest. As time progressed, however, declining family fortunes would call upon Augusta to put her considerable skills as a seamstress to work in an effort to support her growing family. No stranger to hard work family members recall hearing the treadle sewing machine she used whirring well into the early morning hours - Augusta drew upon the early lessons of the frontier and an innate creativity to fashion what would become known as the Woodstock Dress.

The dresses, made of cotton, velvet, taffeta and other select types of fabrics were soon in high demand by the women of Woodstock. It could, for example, be either a casual everyday dress to wear to market or easily worn formally at a reception. The dress became a favorite of women within the art colony and was also worn by many of the Cheats and Swings square dancers during a number of exhibitions, including one memorable performance for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at their home in Hyde Park.

Though styles would change as time progressed, the history of the Woodstock Dress has been kept alive over the years through the efforts of the Historical Society of Woodstock and Augustas great-granddaughter, Deborah Allen Heppner. Over the decades, however, though the dress has attracted considerable interest by designers who have marveled at Augustas intricate work, the reproduction of the dress and its return to fashion seems to have been waiting these many years for the right person to take on such a task. That long wait is about to end.

Enter Sarah Stitham, owner of Workday Wear. Founded as a clothing company, Stitham’s vision behind Workday Wear was to focus on elegant, well-made clothing, using all natural fabrics that hearken back to a time when things were constructed sturdily, sewn beautifully and made locally. A child of the Catskills, Stitham’s own life experiences and her connection to both land and community made Augusta Allen’s dress an obvious focus of her creative imagination. Allen’s ability, despite the financial hardships of her day, to draw upon the pioneering and homesteading skills of her youth to produce the Woodstock Dress, was, to Stitham, the underlying “ethos for Workday Wear since the beginning.”

As a result of her discussions with Heppner, who also serves as President of the Historical Society, Stitham began to pursue the idea of bringing back the Woodstock Dress. “I became obsessed with Augusta’s ingenuity, fortitude and design style,” offered Stitham. That obsession has magically led to the first successful recreation of the Woodstock Dress in more than eighty years.

As a result of Stitham’s creative efforts and collaboration with the Historical Society of Woodstock, the Woodstock Dress will return to the town that gave it birth on May 5, 2019. On that date, through a program that combines both history and fashion, Stitham’s “new” Woodstock Dress will be unveiled along with Augusta Allen’s story as presented by Woodstock Town Historian, Richard Heppner. The program will be held at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, 85 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY from 3:00-5:00 pm. An Afternoon Tea and further discussion will follow the program. Music interludes by Reggie Earls and Timothy Hill will also be presented. Tickets for the event are $20.00 and can be purchased at the door or online by going to the Historical Society’s web page at: www.historicalsocietyofwoodstock.org.

For further information and press inquiries, email: woodstockhistory@hvc.rr.com

To contact Sarah Stitham, email sarah@workdaywear.com 

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