"It was made by Winifred Leahy, who you wouldn't know unless you're about eighty," says Grant, laughing. "She was well known in the '40s and '50s in Denver, and she was the director of the fittings department for Montaldo's department store and Denver Dry Goods Co. in Cherry Creek. She became a friend of Robert Weaver, who was the manager of the big classical music store, Music For All, for 25 years, and he wanted something to wear to the opening of the Denver Symphony. So Winifred made him this gorgeous cape. It's not something you'd rent in a Halloween store. It's this incredible navy blue wool flannel material, and it has a plum satin lining with a collar."
How did it get passed down to Grant so that he could continue the tradition of dapper, cultured men sporting a cape? There's some beautiful symmetry to the story.
According to Grant, he "misspent" his youth in Weaver's music store — "I was just drawn to symphonic music and opera" — and the two became friends. Weaver also knew Vance Kirkland, who was friends with Grant's mother, and she introduced Kirkland to her son. Those two bonded over "this great love of classical music." Eventually Weaver gave the cape to Kirkland, who would wear it to opera openings, and Kirkland — one of the most famous artists to ever call Denver home -- passed it down to Grant, who is now the director of the museum that houses his collection.
"It's a little strange to be seen running around wearing a cape," Grant says. "One feels a little self-conscious wearing a cape. You have to have flamboyant weirdo personality to pull it off. It used to be the style that you could dress up, even in Denver, which was known as a cow town. Cows are a great part of our history, and I love cows, but I also like that we're into culture."
And Denver won't look too shabby, either, since Kirkland hailed from here and the new Clyfford Still museum -- housing the artist's entire estate -- in Civic Center should be finished by 2009.