Take My Ties, Please

Why tune into season 4 of Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on February 18, 2022?

First of all, it’s a wonderful (or more fittingly, marvelous) show about a young housewife in the late 1950s breaking into stand-up comedy. It’s a feast for the eyes, the ears, the funny bone. But what will make this looooong-awaited (thanks, COVID) season even better? Well, it just so happens that the newest collection of vintage ties being added to the wardrobe department of the hit show is being supplied by…my family!!

My Uncle Bob Woolf owned Leeds Ties on 42nd Street in Manhattan in the 1950s-1960s, and my father would take surplus ties and sell them at college (keep in mind back in those days, college men had to wear ties). These were the extras he never got to sell, so they are circa 1959-1963.

My father, who could not part with anything, kept them. While cleaning out the basement one day, I came across the hoard—over 50 “new old stock” factory fresh ties in boxes. I looked them up online thinking they might have some collectible value, but no such luck.

So I figured I’d just toss ’em in the donation bin.

It was January 2nd, my deceased mother’s birthday, and as I bagged them up for donation I swear I heard Mom’s voice in my head say, “What about that Mrs. Maisel show you watch? Maybe the costume designer could use them.”

This is what haunts you when your mother was a crafter and your father, a hoarder collector.

I figured it couldn’t hurt to look up the designer before driving over to Goodwill, and incredibly I found her public profile on LinkedIn. So, like Mom’s voice suggested, I wrote to her explaining my find.

Fifteen minutes later I heard a *ping.*

Emmy-winning costume designer Donna Zakowska wrote back.

“I want them.”

And needless to say I never made it to Goodwill.

She was amazed they’d never been worn and felt they’d look great on camera. She asked if she could put me in contact with her assistant, the brilliant Ben Philipp. Within the hour Ben had reached out to me on LinkedIn, and was similarly excited.

“If you can send them to me, I’ll pay for shipping. Or, if you’re in or near New York City, I can meet you and pick them up.”

I wasn’t missing a chance to meet an individual whose work I admire, and I told Ben I could meet him anytime, anyplace. He happened to be working on a stage production at the time, and the photo above captures the unforgettable evening I got to meet Ben backstage and tell him all about my (literal) family ties.

Now with season 4 fast approaching, I’m hoping to spot a few of these vintage beauties in the background. Thank goodness for high def and the pause button.

The moral of the story: WHEN YOU FEEL INSPIRED, ALWAYS TAKE THAT CHANCE. If you reach out to someone you don’t know, do it with sincerity and professionalism. The worst they can do is never respond.

But they just might.

And they just might say YES!

And you just might wind up with a marvelous story.

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