Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Person of the Week

Lina Demasi Spreads Fashion, Creativity, and Charity


As owner of Angie-Lu Tailor in Madison, Lina Demasi is known for her skillful alterations and redesigns of elegant bridal gowns, modern men’s apparel, and more. In recent weeks, she has been sewing face masks to help health care professionals and anyone in need of hard-to-find protective gear. Photo courtesy of Lina Demasi

As owner of Angie-Lu Tailor in Madison, Lina Demasi is known for her skillful alterations and redesigns of elegant bridal gowns, modern men’s apparel, and more. In recent weeks, she has been sewing face masks to help health care professionals and anyone in need of hard-to-find protective gear. (Photo courtesy of Lina Demasi )

As a master tailor specializing in bridal couture and formal apparel, Lina Demasi redesigns and customizes elegant dresses and gowns that make her clients satisfied with her service. But nowadays, when she works to create a face accessory, it is not a sheer flowing veil that barely conceals a blushing bride’s glow or adorns her hair.

Instead, she works to sew batches of face masks—coverings that are a recent clothing staple to protect wearers from the COVID-19 virus.

Although her new accessory might not be as elegant as her other creations, the mask is perhaps as important to the wearer as the veil is to a bride, if not more so. Now that everyone is asked to wear a face covering in public when it might not be possible to maintain proper social distancing, Lina sews them with the same care and professionalism expected of a master tailor.

“Our community has been wonderful with donating pre-cut, pre-washed 100 percent cotton and elastic,” she says.

She donates them to anyone who requests them, including health care workers from Yale New Haven Health, who find them useful even though they are not medical-grade masks. It is her act of charity to the community, a contribution of her time and talent to help those in need of protective gear that has become hard to access.

“My heart goes out to the people on the front line,” she says. “Having to go to work and living every day that fear of giving the virus to their loved ones or contracting it themselves must be horrible. I also feel bad for the elderly who can’t leave their homes or visit with their loved ones. If I can help in giving a little protection to them, then I feel good.”

It takes about 20 minutes to make each mask, and she spends an average of seven hours a day sewing them. She has made so many, she has lost count.

Lately, her days have been more involved with the production of face masks, and she says that many people have availed of them—from nursing home workers and local medical office employees to health care professionals and pizza restaurant owners.

She even recalls one time when a police officer who was outside her tailor shop putting up some signs popped inside her shop to ask if she had masks, which she was only too willing to provide.

“I’m not happy to see people in need of masks, but I am so happy to be doing this,” she says.

Fashion is Her Passion

Lina married Eugenio in Italy and together, they have three children: Ralph, Theresa, and Antonio. Eugenio passed away in early 2019.

Theresa, who lives in Madison and works at the VNA, received a request for face masks from her niece, a doctor at Yale who knew that Lina could easily sew them. Lina was glad to oblige.

Professionally, Lina used to manufacture clothes for Christian Dior, House of Bianci Bridal, and Talbots.

Today, she is the owner of Angie-Lu Tailor, a shop she named after her grandchildren, Angelina and Lucia. Located at 693 Boston Post Road, the shop was established in 2003 offering alteration services. With her ties to clothing houses in Italy, she launched her apparel business in 2006. Her shop now includes menswear, including tuxedos, suits, shirts, and casual attire.

Her passion for creating fashionable clothing dates back to her days growing up in Italy. She started learning how to sew at the age of 5.

She recalls being trained to sew by Catholic nuns at a convent she would visit each day after school. At the age of 12, she started lessons with the nuns on how to handle the sewing machine. She adds that the hands-on training she received was the best way to learn her craft.

“Back then, you didn’t have a computer, you didn’t have a phone. You go home, you do your homework, you put on a uniform, and you go to the convent. And that’s how [I] learned [to sew],” she says.

The years of early hands-on training put her on a path to fashion design and master tailoring.

With her sewing skills, Lina came to the United States in 1974; she now lives in Meriden where, from 1986 to '98, she owned another shop called Lina Fashion with more than 50 employees. She says most of them spoke Spanish, so she “not only had to learn English but Spanish, too.” She also knows how to speak Portuguese and Italian.

She recalls years back when concern for the lack of skilled seamstresses compelled her to seek a position to teach the trade. She was already employed full time, but she decided to apply for a substitute position to teach her craft at two technical high schools, Eli Whitney in Hamden and at E.C. Goodwin in New Britain. She got both positions.

She relates how she decided to veer her students away from the computer-aided lessons and give them hands-on training with the sewing machine. To her satisfaction, the students enjoyed her lessons and learned more than if they had been taught via computer videos.

Her teaching made such an impact that the principal at Eli Whitney offered her a full-time position to teach her craft. Although it was a tempting opportunity, she declined because she was already employed at the time.

When she does create fashionable apparel for her bridal customers, she derives a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing her customers appreciate her work.

“My brides like to think of me as their fairy godmother doing magic on their gowns,” she says with humor.

“With me, I treat the customer better than I want people to treat myself. This is not just a business. You have to have personal care for what you do,” she explains.

Today, her tailoring still requires her creativity, albeit making face masks for the time being.

The COVID-19 outbreak may have temporarily shifted her work, but she views the recent events as an opportunity to help. She plans to continue sewing the masks for charity “for however long it takes.”

“Aside from all the horrible reality of this disease, I am most thankful for the ‘Great Pause.’ Sometimes it’s necessary for all of us to live in the present. Making masks has helped me not focus on this virus. When someone comes in and is thankful for something that is so simple to make, it warms my heart,” she says.

For more information about Angie-Lu Tailor, call 203-245-9381 or visit www.angielutailors.com.

To nominate a Person of the Week, email m.caulfield@shorepublishing.com.

Maria Caulfield is the Associate Editor for Zip06. Email Maria at m.caulfield@shorepublishing.com.

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