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A Dress Made Just For You

For much of the 20th century, Willie Otey Kay was a household name among the fashion-conscious in Raleigh. The designer and dressmaker crafted one-of-a-kind fashion for women to wear to weddings, debutante balls, and other formal events.

But her own life was not always so glamorous. Her dressmaking career began out of necessity after she was widowed with five children. And despite her talent and creativity, Kay, an African-American in the Jim Crow South, had to navigate challenging racial dynamics to sustain a multiracial clientele.

The new exhibit "Made Especially for You by Willie Kay" on view at the North Carolina Museum of History examines Willie Kay’s life and legacy, and features oral history interviews with family members and former clients, as well as a collection of Kay’s exquisite dresses.

Host Frank Stasio previews the exhibit with curator Diana Bell-Kite and family members Charles Otey Kay and Elizabeth Constant Lewis.

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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