How Lena "Lane" Bryant Changed
the Shape of Fashion
A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
(pub. 4.12.2022) 32 pages
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal
Character: Lena "Lane" Bryant
"Lena came to America with nothing but a dream—and an exceptional ability to drape and snip and stitch. She never used a pattern or a tape measure, but every dress she sewed turned out to be a perfect fit.
Then, one day, a customer presented her with a new challenge. Could she design a stylish, comfortable gown for a body shape that did not meet the current standards of fashion?
Lena took the challenge. Under the company name Lane Bryant, she became famous for flattering and modish clothing designed for all different shapes and sizes. The world of fashion would never be the same."
"One day a customer came in with an unusual request. She was going to have a baby. Could Lena make a gown that would grow bigger with her belly, so that it would never squeeze or pinch?
Lena had never heard of such a thing. Who had?
But she remembered her grandfather's words. Here was a chance to help another person through her work.
So, she draped and snipped and stitched, and made a gown of silk and lace - with room to grow. It was elegant. It was comfortable . And it was a success."
And something more: Mara Rockliff, in the Author's Note, explains that "Lena Himmelstein was born in 1879 in Rietavas, Lithuania. Her mother died ten days later, and Lena and her older sister, Annie, were raised by their grandparents. Russian persecution and a lack of opportunities for Jews led first Annie, then Lena, to escape to the United States ... All her life, Lena recalled her grandfather, a rabbi, saying, 'Any work that helps another human being has dignity. The only real success comes from filling a human need.' She saw helping people as the best part of her work - along with silk and lace."