“DESPERATELY SEEKING FASHION” by Sandy Schreier – a preview of her upcoming autobiography

Dear Shaded Viewers,

I have known Sandy,  a collector,  a stage and TV personality, a museum curator/lender and also an author,  for decades through our dearly departed friend, Stephen Di Petrie. Stephen was my neighbor in NYC in the West Village and the curator of the 25 year YSL exhibitions that travelled the globe.   Sandy and I have had great conversations about her collection,  which is considered the largest and the definitive collection of French couture, American fashion and Hollywood costume in private hands, but more recently I've been discovering all kinds of tidbits about her life, about the costumes she designed for Diana Ross and the Supremes, about her friendship with Bette Midler that has spanned decades, about her life long marriage with Sherwin. He was the only man in her life aside from a very brief encounter with Clint Eastwood epic PLAY MISTY FOR ME. Here is a teaser for her upcoming book  "DESPERATELY SEEKING FASHION".

Text by Sandy Schreier who also provided the images:             

My collection of couture has given me an entre into the lives of the world’s most famous  

people in the field of fashion, film and music.   Although many pieces have been seen in major  

art museums, in books, and in magazines and newspapers, I am constantly asked, not about my

Chanels, my Poirets  nor my Schiaparellis, but how I’ve  met and befriended the “stars.”  Years ago, I

 Began to realize , that because we are living in an era of celebrity driven culture ,  people are more

interested in my “star” friends than the rare gowns that I’ve collected.  They reason,  so I’m told,

 if these friendships can happen to me, “little Sandy Miller from Detroit,” they can happen to them

 as well.  

Okay, so here’s a small portion of DESPERATELY SEEKING FASHION, my autobiography.  

mother loved the movies so much and yet had no interest, whatsoever, in what the stars wore, which was always paramount to me.  When she accompanied my dad to work at Russeks, the specialty store in downtown Detroit, she went to please him, not to try on or admire the beautiful clothes, the jewels or the furs, which were the reason my father was sent to Detroit from his home in New York City.


My dad was the youngest of eight children, the oldest four never came to America, but the youngest, including the baby, my father, accompanied their father to the new world, New York City, after their mother took ill.  My paternal grandmother died before she could make the trip. In Daddy’s late teens, when his father became ill, he dropped out of school and took a job at the New York Russeks, which was owned by David and Gertrude Russek Nemerov, the parents of photographer Diane Arbus*.  The Nemerovs were at a loss concerning their daughter’s pubescent and then teen years and as I grew up, Daddy kept a firm grip, not wanting me to be like “that bratty Diane.”  Mr. “N” took Daddy under his wing, invited him home for many dinners where he witnessed disagreements and more than an occasional war between the future photography genius and her  conservative parents.  Mr. Nemerov encouraged Daddy to learn the craft of making fur coats (his first love), which were, during the first half of the twentieth century, practical and functional garments and far from fashionable.

Daddy was a quick study and also a very handsome young man who appealed to the customers of Russeks fur salon. By the 30’s, Russeks opened their fur department in the Detroit store, their only branch, where the auto magnates’ wives, mostly from Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills, were their customers. Mr. Nemerov persuaded my Dad to head the branch’s fur department.


When my father arrived in Detroit, he went on a blind date with his cousin’s best friend, Mollie Goldberg, which was not only my mom’s name, but the name of mother’s favorite radio show.  That Molly Goldberg, played by Gertrude Berg, was more like my grandmother than my mother, who was “thoroughly modern Mollie”!  Daddy was quite taken by Mother’s vivacious personality and her daring outspoken ways, very different from the only women in his life, his two older sisters, who , by the time he left New York, had settled into married life and motherhood, both with foreign born men.  Many years later, when one of Daddy’s nieces became engaged to a Holocaust survivor, Daddy asked “Couldn’t you find a nice

American boy”?


When I *was very young, I became the curly-headed “Shirley Temple” of Russeks. Going to work with Daddy introduced me to the world of high fashion, a world that was not part of my home life, as my mother was never a fashion person, but an athlete, performing feats I could never accomplish, even in my wildest dreams.  I loved playing dress-up in the couture and bridal salons and, for the first time, became acquainted with my future bibles: Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, the magazines that adorned every table in every dressing room.  Daddy’s clientele played into my fantasies, offering me their unwanted, and, very often, unworn couture.  Unlike the turn of the 20th century when beautiful French couture was passed down to ones daughters and/or other relatives, when I was young, the wearing of old clothes, even French couture, was considered pass

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.