Thursday, August 16, 2012


In keeping with the theme of unusual finds I've come across this summer, I wanted to share with you this opera cape that once belonged to Angelina Alioto, former first lady of San Francisco.

I had the good fortune and great timing of showing up at one of my favorite thrift stores on "vintage day."

 Angelina Genaro Alioto, matriarch of one of San Francisco’s most powerful political families, former first lady of San Francisco and divorced wife of ex-Mayor Joseph Alioto.

 They squirrel away the best of their vintage donations all year in anticipation of this annual event.

I wasn't initially aware that many of the gorgeous vintage dresses, coats, and furs belonged to the infamous Angelina Alioto.   

In fact, it wasn't until I was at the register that I was informed of its provenance. 

And then told this now legendary story about the former first lady of San Francisco...

Apparently nothing riled Angelina Alioto more than being neglected and taken for granted.

It all began January 18, 1974, when she got angry with her husband because he forgot to introduce her at a political function in Palm Springs when he was the guest of honor.

Furious, she drove away that night without telling anyone where she was headed. Almost three weeks later her distraught husband, who had reportedly spent  much of the intervening time slumped in an armchair thinking about giving up politics, had a five-state bulletin issued for her recovery and had to tell the press he did not know where she was or why she had gone.

She came back (from a tour of the California missions, figuring no one would think to look for her in a church ) but instead of going to their 15 room palatial stone mansion in San Francisco, she went to the chief of police.

The next morning, finally at home, Angelina Alioto, once the epitome of the anonymous political wife, who never says anything, held a joint news conference with her husband in the solarium and told scores of reporters she ran away because she felt "jealous", "neglected", and "angry."


"I was frustrated over being used," she told them. The six children are all grown up now, she added, "and I have to be here alone in this place with my housekeeper 27 nights a month and I feel neglected. All I want is some attention and thoughtfulness."

I was already completely smitten with my new find but that story simply sealed the deal!

It is lined in the most luscious and saturated shade of emerald green satin.

And has 2 long ties that tie around your neck.

I can only imagine how gorgeous the Diva Angelina must have looked in it with her platinum blonde  hair and that exquisite stand up collar!

I don't think I'll be able to pull this number off but I love it strewn across my bed or thrown over a chair in my living room. 

To me it is "art."

And the provenance and story bring it to life!

It is weird how I've recently stumbled upon 2 items that have belonged to California political figures. It's all part of the thrill that keeps me on the hunt!


Burlap Luxe said...

Beautiful find Terri,
You are speaking my Opera language :)
all things beautiful in Opera.
You find the best treasures, and I am sure when you try on the dress you sing just as operatic :)

Thank you for sharing, and what a find in my favorite colour of silver grey!


Fleaing France & French Shopping said...

Incredible...and you are right, it is art!
Enjoy your new find.

Chemin des Muguets said...

Magnifique! I think the opera cape has found a good home. Marjorie

Karena said...

Terri now that is a woman I admire! A fabulous gown and it is a work of art!!

Art by Karena
2012 Artist Series featuring Harrison Howard

Summer for Swede said...

Fabulous fabric and beading. I'm sure glad they told you the history so it wasn't lost by keeping that to themselves. It is art. Presume it is custom made if it doesn't have a label. You really have an eye for picking things.

Kathysue said...

Wow!!Terri, love the story and it is truly a work of art!! Great hunting and finding on your part,
xo Kathysue

helen tilston said...

Hello Terri

What an incredibly beautiful gown. It is a piece of art and I am so glad you have. What a story.

Helen xx

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

What a neat story and such beautiful treasures! Thank you for sharing at Feathered Nest Friday!