Jun 27, 2022

Woman discovers vintage dress belonging to late grandmother worth $40,000

Photos: Adeline Vining (TikTok).

She asked her followers to help her trace its origins, and the internet community rallied to her call.

Through the help of people all over the world, Vining has since uncovered the mystery of the dress and is enjoying learning more about her family history.

Towards the end of April, Vining, 36, posted a TikTok video wearing a vintage Dior dress that had been owned by her late grandmother. 

Speaking to Insider, Vining shared that prior to uploading the video, she was clueless as to what would happen when she posted the discovery to TikTok, and that it would attract 7.5 million views and over 8,000 comments. 

Adeline said, “I’ve heard a lot about trolls on TikTok, so it was quite overwhelming to have thousands of strangers telling me I look beautiful because of something as simple as a dress.”

The significant reaction on the platform helped draw the attention of a fashion auctioneer and historian who provided her with information about the dress, including its historical, financial and fashion value. 

Importantly, however, Vining is most grateful that the journey on the social media platform has led her to uncover more of her family history. 

TikTok video of vintage dress mesmerises  

In her first video, Vining outlined how she had inherited the charcoal black, silk and velvet Dior dress. 

When her grandfather passed away, decades ago, her mother had gone to his estate in France, and decided to return with the dress she had found there. 

Vining was given the dress as the only grandchild who would fit into it. 

The dress has remained tucked away for years as there had never been a glamorous enough occasion to take it out for a spin. 

“I contacted Dior about 12 years ago but they weren’t much help,” she continued, sharing her hope that someone on TikTok would be able to provide a breakthrough about the dress’s beginnings.

After posting the video, Vining had gone to bed, unaware that overnight people had contacted the Oscars asking for her to be invited so she could wear the dress, with others providing tips on how to preserve and store the dress and affirming the power of fashion memories. 

A fashion historian is intrigued

Helpfully, some followers had tagged a fashion historian who turned out to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. 

London-based Henry Wilkinson, an expert in researching and restoring vintage fashion, saw the video and described how upon seeing the typography of the label, he was able to instantly pinpoint the dress to be early Christian Dior. 

Furthermore, he mused on additional clues that would provide a closer understanding of the year. 

Wilkinson shared, “The hourglass silhouette was reminiscent of his revolutionary ‘New Look’ that began in 1947,” continuing that the zig-zag trim on Vining’s strapless vintage dress guided him to assess the piece was from Dior’s autumn/winter 1949 collection, a time when the clothing was designed and formulated directly by the founder. 

He was also able to highlight that a very similar-looking design was on show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the mid 1980s. 

Curious about the dress’s history, the historian contacted Vining on Instagram and after hearing its origin story, he strongly encouraged her to get the dress insured. 

Vining conveyed to her followers, “Henry encouraged me to get my grandmother’s dress valued and put me in touch with Kerry Taylor Auctions in London.” 

Taylor shared with her that the dress was likely worth between £30,000 and £35,000 (between $36,700 and $42,800). 

Vining showed Wilkinson further details of the dress and was able to discern it had been taken in at the bust and waist, and that the net on the trim was partially frayed. From this he assessed that it is likely that Vining’s grandmother had worn the dress prior to her death in 1956. 

Photos: Adeline Vining (TikTok).

Propelled to find out more

Countless viewers expressed their hope that Vining would provide further updates on the dress. She returned that she was thrilled to journey alongside them to discover more, and in so doing, organised a separate TikTok playlist titled, “That Dior Dress”, which now has a total of eight videos. 

Vining expressed that the past months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for her and her family. The dress mesmerising so many on TikTok encouraged her wider family to come together and swap anecdotes. Old photographs of her grandmother even surfaced, long since forgotten. Delightfully, Vining shared a photo her uncle had found of her grandmother actually dancing in the dress.  

Describing the intimate family joy of what the dress had done, Vining highlighted, “We’re all so proud of my grandfather for his services to France in the foreign office that he became the member we always talked about. I’m glad [that] through the dress I’m finally able to meet my grandmother.”

Vining is now seeking to gather further information on her grandmother’s life and death. She shared, “The story seems straight out of Disney and once I have confirmed all the facts I will be sharing it on TikTok.” 

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