The Past and the Present

It is quite extraordinary how the past and the present can collide unexpectedly. Recently, as my husband and I prepared to travel to a beach holiday for our thirty-fourth (!) wedding anniversary, I was contacted through my website by someone from the past. It wasn't my past but, that of my Italian parents, and a lovely lady that had modelled the Piergiovanni fashions, in the fifties and sixties. Not only was she a part of their lives for a number of years but, Jane Kelsall—as she was known then—is in one of the images in the second book, Ciao! We're in Africa (Chapter 14).

The Past and the Present

Then, when Jane mentioned where she is living, and this happened to be close to where we were about to go, it seemed fate had played into our hands. A serendipitous opportunity presented itself, a meeting of the past and the present. Thank you, Jane, for the hour we spent together and the wonderful trip back in time.


It is astonishing that even then, Dior, was an iconic fashion house; one that has become a global phenomenon. It still fills my mother with pride that Dior commended the fashion designs created by her and my dad for a show that they held in Europe, a trip called 'Taking Africa to Europe’. I remember Mamma mimicking—as she provided this particular bit of content for the book—with her brown eyes sparkling and a joyous voice, the chant of Madame Dior herself, who said, ‘Je le veux comme ça! I want it like that!’ The fact that Dior then asked Jane to show off some of their gowns was a dream come true for an eighteen-year-old debutante living in Rhodesia, Africa. A pity her father said she was too young to stay by herself in Paris ... it was different times back then with conservative parents.


The top half of the photo above is from the newspaper article showing the swathe of black and white checked material that wrapped around Jane’s lithe body. A beaten copper necklace was matched with bangles and ankle chains—a very Africa look—and this all combined to create such a spectacular and welcome reaction from the crowds on the night of the event. The colour photo goes to show that despite the passing of time, Jane's modelling background is still very apparent; she has such style.


It's amazing to have bridged the gap between the past and the present. We aren't often presented with such occasions or when we are, it's too easy to say that we don't have the time. Yet, chatting about what was and what is, can reveal such fascinating information, not just to write about but, so that we can celebrate and enjoy a connection with others.

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