Adeline Vining posted a TikTok about her grandma’s Dior dress that had sat in an attic for 25 years.
She asked followers to help her identify its origins, and the internet rallied to help her.
Now she’s solved the mystery and is learning more about her family history as a result.
On April 30, 36-year-old Adeline Vining posted a video on TikTok in a Dior dress that belonged to her late grandmother. Vining told Insider that at the time she had no idea that a dress she stuffed in a suitcase in her attic for nearly 25 years would garner 7.5 million views and over 8,000 comments on social media.
“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,” Adeline told Insider.
All the attention connected Vining with a fashion historian and auctioneer who helped her understand the value of the vintage Dior piece. Through the process of digging and unveiling new information on TikTok, she was also able to reconnect with her family history.
Vining’s TikTok about her grandmother’s dress went hugely viral
In the original video, Vining narrated the story of how she inherited the charcoal black, silk, and velvet Dior dress: when her grandfather passed away a few decades ago, her mother visited his estate in France and brought back the dress for her as she was the only grandchild who would fit in it, she said.
She added that the dress remained holed up for years as she could never find an occasion glamorous enough to wear vintage Dior. “I couldn’t meet my grandmother and wanted to learn more about her through the dress. I contacted Dior about 12 years ago but they weren’t much help,” she said, adding that she hoped someone on TikTok would help her trace its origins.
Overnight the comment section blew up. People tagged the Oscars seeking an invite for Vining to wear the dress; others offered recommendations on how to store the dress and shared stories of clothing they inherited from their grandparents and the related power of material memory.
It caught the attention of a fashion historian, who helped identify the dress
Some users tagged fashion historians in the hope they might be able to help. One was London-based Henry Wilkinson, who specializes in researching and restoring vintage fashion. He saw the video and told Insider that based on the typography on the label, he estimated it was an early Christian Dior piece, and other details offered further clues.
“The hourglass silhouette was reminiscent of his revolutionary ‘New Look’ that began in 1947,” Wilkinson said, adding that the zig-zag trim on Vining’s strapless vintage dress helped him conclude the piece was from Dior’s autumn/winter 1949 collection, back when the clothing was still designed by the founder himself.
“Henry encouraged me to get my grandmother’s dress valued and put me in touch with Kerry Taylor Auctions in London,” she said. Kerry Taylor told Insider that in its current condition the dress was worth anywhere between £30,000 and £35,000 (between $36,700 and $42,800). “This completely floored me,” Vining said of the valuation.
Vining said that when Wilkinson studied the dress, he realized it had been taken in from the bust and waist, and the net on the trim was frayed. These were interpreted as signs that her grandmother wore the dress before she died in 1956.
The virality of the story united the family in trying to find out more
Many viewers left comments saying they were hoping for future updates on the dress. Vining is excited to take them with her on this journey of discovery, and created a separate TikTok playlist titled “That Dior Dress” which now has eight videos.
The past weeks have been a melting pot of emotions for Vining and her family, she said. All the attention the dress received on TikTok urged her extended family to share anecdotes and old photographs of her grandmother on their private Facebook group. Most recently, Vining said that one of her uncles found a photograph of her grandmother dancing in what appeared to be the dress.
“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 through the dress I’m finally able to meet my grandmother,” she said.
Vining is now aiming to collect information on her grandmother’s death. She told Insider, “The story seems straight out of Disney and once I have confirmed all the facts I will be sharing it on TikTok.”