The Story Behind Style

[Carola’s beautiful mother]

The ladies and gentleman I photograph always have great stories to tell. Oftentimes they will have things in their wardrobes that they have kept for many years. These special items carry with them, memories of the past. The other day Carola asked if I would like to see some Chinese coats that her mother had passed down to her. We met up in a small city park and I took a few shots of her in her mother’s coats. As a girl Carola always looked forward to special gifts from her mother.I asked her to share some words about her mother below:

Our mother, Emily Hahn, was a dazzling, beautiful adventurer and writer. She had spent some time in Hollywood as a screenwriter and then, on a trip around she discovered Shanghai. She stayed in China for 9 years, teaching and writing. She had a love affair there with a Chinese poet and when this relationship deteriorated she met my father who was stationed in Hong Kong as a British intelligence officer. I was born from this passion. At the behest of my father, who feared for our lives and who had been imprisoned by the Japanese after being badly wounded in the battle of Hong Kong, my mother and I took a refugee ship to New York. We were joined there by my father after Japan surrendered at the end of World War II and he was able to escape from his prison camp when the prison guards abandoned it.

While my mother survived some war years in Hong Kong, she told me that a fur lined chinese robe kept her warm through savage weather and deprivations of food and heat.

My mother was not vain and she enjoyed a life of the mind. Still, her glamor and beauty touched me I remember the gifts my mother would bring back to my sister and me from New York. We lived in England at this time, after my father came to get us in New York and bring us to his home in the English countryside. She brought us dresses. My favorites were a billowy skirted white dress with red roses scattered over it and a persian turquoise summer dress spangled with gold stars. These dresses remain in my memory linked to Rome, city of gold and apricot, where my mother had taken me at the perfect age of 14, for a Roman holiday!