Remembering Lora Herrmann

Lora Maria Herrmann Czech isn’t a household name. Still, she was well-loved and is missed by her friends and family. She passed away ten years ago today. The time since her death seems to have gone by so quickly. It’s weird to think that for a quarter of my life, she’s been gone. She was a big influence on me.

Oma in Toronto

See, I was her first grandchild. She adored all three of us and was a big part of our lives. She lived in the apartment next door, and later, when my parents bought a house, in a house of her own a few miles away. To me, she was Oma.

Oma was born on August 9, 1926 near Stuttgart, Germany. She went to went to modelling school and also earned a diploma that qualified her as a cosmetician, esthetician and hair dresser.

diploma

When she immigrated to Canada in the spring of ’57 she opened her own beauty parlour in Toronto. It was so successful that her husband decided to open a shop too! After several years as an entrepreneur she developed an allergy to the dyes and perm solutions she was exposed to in the salon.

She switched careers and worked at Holt Renfrew and Eaton’s in retail fashion, all while raising her two kids (my mom and uncle). Her flair for fashion and love of style made an impression on me. Some of my earliest memories are me in Oma’s apartment, wearing her shoes. She was only a size 6, but I was a kid, and those were big shoes to fill.

Oma and Trudy in Stuttgart

Working in high-end fashion gave Oma the opportunity to collect wonderful clothes by famous designers. She taught me about Missoni, Pucci, Diane von Furstenberg, and Prada (I wrote about Oma’s hand-me-downs a few weeks ago).

Oma had style and grace. She helped me dye my hair a perfect shade of blonde when I was in high school. Nothing brassy, nothing ashy. Something between honey and wheat. What a skill!

Mom and Oma

Oma loved music and art, and filled her home with both. I remember visiting her when I was in university. I was too poor for cable so she let me watch MTV during dinner. When “Kiss” by Prince came on, I panicked. What would she think? He was dancing in “questionable” clothes. Oma looked at his outfit and approved. “Wonderful flared pants,” she said. “And can he ever dance in heels!”

Oma wasn’t a gambling woman but she made one bet with me—and won. In the ’80s I wore skinny jeans. Oma liked the universally flattering silhouette of a flare (hence her appreciation of Prince). I hated flares and swore I’d never wear them. She told me everything comes back in style after a time and that one day I would wear them. “Twenty bucks says I never do.” I replied.

Oma and Jean

Fast forward to the mid-90s, when retro-70s was in. I arrived at Oma’s place wearing denim bell bottoms. “You owe me twenty dollars,” she said. She made me pay up. She was a woman of her word and made sure I was too.

In my youth, I’d never have guessed how much Oma shaped me. I’ve focused on fashion in this post because fashion was a big part of her life and this is, after all, a style blog. But in so many ways, I’m who I am because of her. So even though she’s gone, her wisdom, style, and influence lives on.

Oma

Lora Maria Herrmann
9-9-1926 — 11-11-2001

17 Comments

Filed under Fashion, General

17 responses to “Remembering Lora Herrmann

  1. carmen

    What a wonderful tribute to Oma, my mom!!!

    A bittersweet day – missing her, but reading this honouring memorial about a woman we both love and has influenced us, makes my heart smile!! 🙂

    I still remember how she doted on you as a baby and how proud she was of you all through the years!!

    She was so excited that you were interested in taking a modelling course, as she did in her youth, so she paid for yours!

    I miss her on this Remembrance Day 11.11.11

    • It sounds like your mom was beautiful person, inside and out. I know that my good friend, Jean, benefitted so much from having Oma in her life. In that, her legend lives! I hope that your family can celebrate today by remembering this very special lady.

      • carmen

        Thank you!!! Your comments are so comforting!! I read The Adventures of Lucky Duck from time to time. I found it through Jean’s blog. Reading blogs is my new hobby!!!

        I’m glad Jean has a good friend like you in her life!!

  2. A wonderful tribute to your “Oma”. My parents could well have run across her in their day; they were both in Toronto in 1957. I was born there, as well.

    • Thanks for writing! I was also born in Toronto, In fact, I moved to Bloor West Village after university and lived about a block away from where that first picture was taken. I wonder if your parents and my Oma’s paths ever crossed…

  3. This is really sweet. And how lucky are you to have such gorgeous photos of your glamourous “Oma”.

    Jenn

  4. Wow, what a beautiful tribute. I love the photographs so much, and I very much enjoy hearing the stories. This is what life is about. It’s great to hear that Oma touched your life and made such an impression on you, and for that, her memory will live on. I’m really proud of you for not selling Oma’s dress back to Diane Von Furstenberg. You need to keep that. What a special heirloom to have! Thanks for sharing this post with us.

    • Thanks you! I’m so happy that I can share Oma with people. You’re so right about the dress: I can’t sell it. We’re talking about my Oma! I don’t even know DVF. To me, the dress is worth more than money.

  5. I love this and having the old pictures just brings everything to life. I think that it’s wonderful how your ‘Oma’ really affected your style and your style in clothes is just amazing. I gotta agree and say that it was the right decision not to sell back that dress too. It was touching how you said that you fell down afterwards and immediately thought of the dress and if it was okay. Anyways, I just thought this post was so sweet and touching.

  6. A beautiful piece. It sounds like (and looks like) your Oma was such a lovely, inspiring woman. I’m glad you shared your memories of her with us.

  7. Thank you, Carmen! I really am a Lucky Duck because I get to be Jean’s friend! 🙂 She’s amazing.

  8. Pingback: Inspiration | fashionable over 50

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