Gowns & Glory

A vintage bridal gown auction benefiting Upstate Warrior Solution

By Erika Torvik
Photographs by Josh Norris & Jay Vaughan

The Fourth of July is an annual reminder of liberty — a chance for citizens to pause, reflect on the blessings of freedom and thank those who have fought to defend the Stars and Stripes.

This year, the testimonies of some of those warriors mingled with high fashion to create a one-of-a-kind vintage bridal gown, Gowns and Glory.

More than 200 people gathered at Vintage Warehouse of Spartanburg’s new location, 1201 Union St., for the live auction of Eva Haynal Forsyth’s couture wedding dresses. All proceeds were donated to Upstate Warrior Solution, a not-for-profit organization that helps service members and veterans with quality of life solutions.

The event’s success was due in large part to the staff of Vintage Warehouse who worked tirelessly to build the backdrop for the show. Cement floors and exposed beams created an industrial feel that was made intimate by antique window frames mounted on walls of weathered wood. Before the show began, guests enjoyed Southern charcuterie and browsed the venue, where local artisans sell everything from restored furniture to jewelry.

During the auction, the crowd listened as warriors shared their testimonies. Upstate Warrior Solution recognizes that the transition from military to civilian life is difficult. When veterans lack access to career services, health care and housing, Upstate Warrior Solution provides resources to help meet their needs.

Tatiana Gonzalez is one such beneficiary. Gonzalez joined the military to build a strong foundation for her future, as well as to be a part of something greater than herself. In spite of her work ethic and distinguished resume, interviewers thought she lacked “real-world” experience, ultimately leaving her unemployed.

Frustrated by her circumstances, Gonzalez decided to take a civilian position on a military base in Kuwait. A couple of years later, Gonzalez returned and was connected with Upstate Warrior Solution. For the first time, her perseverance was met with a support system that was able to kick-start her career. During the July Fourth event, models dressed in Forsyth’s bridal gowns beautifully framed Gonzalez as she stood on stage in uniform, sharing her story.

Forsyth’s collection is one that transcends time, each piece showcases her distinctive flare and extreme attention to detail. For those unfamiliar with the designer, she ranked among legends like Vera Wang and Arnold Scassi. During the 1960s, she made her mark in the industry. Her dresses accounted for a large percentage of Kleinfeld’s revenue, which is no small feat considering it was one of the largest department stores in New York City at the time. More than 50 years later, the chance to peruse Kleinfeld’s inventory is still a part of every bride’s dream.

Her husband Bob Forsyth, a World War II veteran, donated more than 40 dresses to Upstate Warrior Solution with the hope that his wiAfe’s work would positively impact veterans. Auctioning these dresses did just that, while allowing bidders to fulfill their own fantasies of buying designer gowns. To view and purchase gowns not auctioned, visit readelysian.com/bridalgown.

The timing of Gowns and Glory could not have been more apropos, as Eva Haynal Forsyth passed away just days before the event. In this way, Gowns and Glory functioned as a tribute to veterans, a celebration of Forsyth’s talent, and a trip through American history via fashion. The dresses raised funds for Upstate Warrior Solution, but also offered a platform to communicate the reality of veteran experience. E

A special thanks to the Gowns & Glory contributors:

Cash Advance America
Gen. Darwin Simpson
Floyd’s Mortuary
Owens Electric
Urban Planters

And our special partners:

Vintage Warehouse of Spartanburg

If you would like to make a donation to Upstate Warrior Solution, please visit: upstatewarriorsolution.org. We thank you in advance.


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