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Legend has it that Lee Holmes’ hand-sewn suits were so well-tailored, people often mistook his fine threads for Italian craftsmanship. Holmesmy grandfathermoved from Oklahoma to Los Angeles in the ’30s and opened up a haberdashery. He catered to a mostly wealthy clientele and stayed successful for several years. Grandpa Lee, who was also an alcoholic and a gambler, eventually had to close up shop, but the legacy he left helped inspire my obsession with clothes. In college, I learned about hard-working African-American designers such as Ann Lowe, who designed Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress; Elizabeth Keckley, who created Mary Todd Lincoln’s inaugural gowns; and Rosa Parks, who, in addition to being a civil rights figure, was a seamstress. In an era when black people were limited to select occupations, Lowe, Keckley, Parks, and my grandfather used their skills to become financially independent. Learn more about these couturiers when Strathmore Hall presents “Threads of Time: African-American Designers, 1854-1954” at 11:30 a.m. at Strathmore Hall Arts Center, 10701 Rockville Pike, Rockville. $15. (240) 777-0020. (Maori Karmael Holmes)