Monthly Archives: July 2015

Three Outfits from Hattie Carnegie, 1928, Plus a Few Words from Elizabeth Hawes

I’m reading Elizabeth Hawes’ book Fashion Is Spinach, (1938) and I’ve reached the chapters in which she describes her months as a copy sketcher in Paris in the 1920’s. That is, it was her job to attend couture showings, posing as an assistant buyer for a department store (Weinstock’s); take careful mental notes (and whatever she could get away with writing on her program;) then rush home to draw the dresses she saw, in order for stores or manufacturers to make unauthorized copies of designer clothing.

However, some stores actually purchased the couture they intended to copy.  According to Hawes, [p. 55] both Bergdorf Goodman and Hattie Carnegie bought fifty to seventy-five models each season for the purpose of making copies — the couturiers understood this. Not many clients bought that many items.

This suit by Patou could be ordered, made to order, at Hattie Carnegie in New York. Delineator, Dec. 1926.

This suit by Paquin could be made to order at Hattie Carnegie in New York. Delineator, Dec. 1926.

This very high quality copy of an ensemble by Paquin could be purchased (made to order) at Hattie Carnegie.

These elegant ensembles are also from Hattie Carnegie, but the magazine did not credit any designers. Hattie Carnegie was also a high-end department store.

The Mode, July 1928:  Three outfits from Hattie Carnegie. Delineator magazine.

“The Mode” July 1928: Three outfits from Hattie Carnegie. Delineator magazine.

It was common practice for buyers from upscale stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Hattie Carnegie to attend the Paris collections, purchase couture models, and then duplicate them in the United States, using the same — or equally high-quality — materials for their made-to-order clients. These copies cost about the same as the originals — but saved the client a trip to Paris for fittings.  I showed this photo of a Hattie Carnegie dress in an earlier post..

Hattie Carnegie dress with large-scale print and scalloped hem, much longer in back than in front. Delineator, July 1928.

Hattie Carnegie dress with large-scale print and scalloped hem, much longer in back than in front. Delineator, July 1928.

There are many Hattie Carnegie costumes and accessories in the Metropolitan Museum Collection. To see a Vionnet evening gown from Hattie Carnegie — it has a Hattie Carnegie label — click here. For the Met’s collection of more than one hundred Hattie Carnegie items, click here.

Three from Hattie Carnegie, 1928

Details of three outfits from Hattie Carnegie, July 1928.

Details of three outfits from Hattie Carnegie, July 1928.

Left, “The country tweeds of the chic woman are distinguished from the tweeds she wears in town by informal accessories. A scarf in autumn leaf colors is tied around the shoulders of this collarless beige coat, belted at an almost normal waistline. Beneath it a plaited brown skirt is worn with a tuck-in blouse.”

Center:  “The printed silk suit has an unassailable chic. Here it is in the shadowy colors of damp violets, worn with a small straw hat in the darkest shade. Suit and hat from Hattie Carnegie.”

Right:  “The chic of printed chiffon, the brown and beige colorings, plaited tiers and jabot, and the feminine quality of the short circular cape distinguish this important frock. The cape is separate and makes with the frock a complete costume that may be worn for tea in town or in the country.”

The hat of coils of very pliable straw fits the headas closely as a transformation." July 1928. Delineator.

“The hat of coils of very pliable straw fits the head as closely as a transformation.” July 1928. Delineator.

This close-fitting hat is rather like one that Fascination Street showed here. Its straw would have been shiny. A “transformation” was a close-fitting wig. Silver transformations were popular in Paris in 1925, according to a Delineator article, “Slick ‘n’ Slicker,” from January 1925. (Click here.)

More About Copying Couture, Explained by Elizabeth Hawes

Manufacturers also bought actual couture garments, but it was more common to pirate sketches of them. Hawes sold her illicit drawings to department store buyers and manufacturers for $1.50 per sketch. (She could make the same sketch more than once and sell it to both buyers and manufacturers.)

“The situation among American buyers in Paris during the years I worked there [1925 – 1928] was very simple. As a buyer of expensive French models for American mass production, you  stole what you could and bought what you had to.Fashion is Spinach, by Elizabeth Hawes, paperback, pp. 52-53.

Hawes later worked for a “copy house” in Paris, which kept a supply of its own designs — usually sportswear — on view, in case of raids, but which also did a steady business in illicit copies of couture. Trusted clients of “Madame Dore” (as Hawes called her) had to navigate obscure stairways to a not-very-glamorous shop, where they could have fittings for made-to-order copies. The prices for these Paris copies were about half what they cost from Chanel or Patou, because Doret’s overhead and customer service were lower than the luxurious premises and deluxe treatment offered at Vionnet or Chanel. [ Hawes, p. 38.] Doret purchased her materials and trims from the same manufacturers who supplied them to the top-of-the line fashion houses. Hawes learned a lot about high-quality clothing at this copy house, because at “Madame Doret,”

“Our boast was that we never made a copy of any dress of which we hadn’t had the original actually in our hands.”

(Mme Doret didn’t usually buy the originals; they were “borrowed” for a few hours while on their way to being shipped to real buyers, or loaned to Mme Doret by clients who owned them  — in exchange for discounts on the copies of other couture made by Mme Doret.)

Hawes got her first real design job in May, 1928,  at the Paris establishment of a designer called Madame Nicole Groult. Serendipity struck this week, when I found one of Mme. Groult’s designs illustrated in the Delineator:

Design by Mme. Nicole Groult, illustrated in Delineator, Oct. 1924 (before Hawes joined her staff.)

Design by Mme. Nicole Groult, illustrated in Delineator, Oct. 1924 (before Elizabeth Hawes joined her design staff.)

“A distinctly Franco-American fashion with its sleeveless frock is made of brown wool braided with beige and worn with a blouse of beige crepe de Chine. A typical Groult flower is embroidered on the front in rose and green cotton. From Nicole Groult.”

Embroidered flower on sleeveless dress by Nicole Groult; Delineator sketch, Oct. 1923.

Embroidered flower on sleeveless dress by Nicole Groult; Delineator sketch, Oct. 1923.

The Met has a charming embroidered cloche hat with a Nicole Groult label; click here.

More About Elizabeth Hawes’ American Couture

At the recent exhibit of High Style from the Brooklyn Museum Collection, this dress by Elizabeth Hawes really impressed me:

The "Tarts" dress by American designer Elizabeth Hawes, 1937. Photos courtesy of Metropolitan Museum.

The “Tarts” dress by American designer Elizabeth Hawes, 1937. Photos courtesy of Metropolitan Museum.

In spite of her joking title (the arrows point to the breasts and the buttocks), this dress would really flatter a normal woman’s figure, and its red and purple geometrical color blocks remind me of some Yves Saint Laurent dresses from 1966-67.  Although it looks black, it is actually a very dark green. The museum docent told us that Hawes’ Tarts dress cost $375 in 1937. It was made in America, but it was custom couture.

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The Metropolitan Museum has a large collection of made-to-order Designer clothing by Elizabeth Hawes. Click here to see over sixty examples of her work. Her book, Fashion Is Spinach, has been reprinted by HardPress Publishing and is available in paperback, or as an E-Book from various sources.

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Dresses, Exhibitions & Museums, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Early Victorian Fan-Fronted Dress, Inside and Outside

Since two readers kindly mentioned a previous post about a Victorian dress on social media, I have many new followers. Thank you! and, welcome! I’ll try to wander into the 1800’s more frequently!

A fan-fronted dress in sheer plaid with bias flounces. From a private collection.

A fan-fronted dress in sheer plaid with bias flounces. From a private collection.

I apologize for the picture quality. I was documenting many dresses, which belonged to a friend, for the purpose of an inventory, with no thought of ever blogging about them. (The collection has been sold.) I didn’t have the luxury of researching on the spot, finding the perfect undergarments, or worrying about perfect pictures. H0wever, just being able to handle 19th century garments, and look inside them, is a privilege, so I feel obliged to share.

Bodice of a fan fronted dress , early Victorian.

Bodice of a fan fronted dress, early Victorian. Private collection.

The bottom of the “fan” of fabric is gathered with rows of stitches about 1/2 inch apart, which creates a slight “pouch” effect and makes the gathering very flat over the waist.

CF waist, fan fronted dress.

CF waist, fan fronted dress.

The bodice is finished with a very typical period detail:  narrow cording encased in bias self-fabric. You can also see that the cartridge pleating has several rows of stitching, which makes for a less bulky and more controlled waist area.

Early Victorian fan-fronted dress; inside view of center front waist where is attaches to the skirt.

Early Victorian fan-fronted dress; inside view of center front waist where it attaches to the skirt.

Characteristic of period construction, the skirt was gathered straight across the top of the yardage. Instead of cutting away the fabric into a V shape to follow the bodice, the Victorians left the excess skirt fabric hanging inside the front. Also visible in this photo are a few faint stitches ruching the tightly gathered front “fan” to the underbodice. You can see the way the bias fabric of the piping which follows the waistline has been hand-stitched to the underbodice. There appears to be a white hanging loop at the point of the bodice. This may have been added by a collector.

Underbodice of fan-fronted dress. Inside front, showing boning.

Underbodice of fan-fronted dress. Inside front, showing boning.

There are two boning channels on the center front seam, and the boning is wider than 1/4 inch, probably 1/2 inch. There are two diagonal boning channels, too. (If that white at the lower right of photo is an inseam pocket, I missed it while examining the dress.)

Skirt of fan-fronted dress.

Skirt of fan-fronted dress.

When you consider how the skirt was constructed and attached to the bodice, the straightness of the horizontal stripes in the fabric becomes truly impressive. Look at how well the stripes line up. (At this time, skirts were not cut into gores; all the side seams were on straight grain, turning the skirt into a very wide tube.) Read more here.

The flounces on the skirt are cut on the bias and not really gathered; the sheer material of the dress seems to change its pattern when closely gathered. I actually wondered if two different fabrics were used, but the contrast is entirely due to the the way the material looks when closely gathered or not gathered at all.

The flounces and hem of the fan-fronted dress.

The flounces and hem of the fan-fronted dress.

Look at that pattern match! At the top of the lower flounce, we can see that its gray and white stripes line up perfectly with the vertical stripes on the skirt, with the bias flounce eased only enough to make it work.

I don’t know the fiber content; I am guessing that its nearest equivalent would be printed cotton voile. The dress works so well because the fabric is so soft and light that it can be gathered very closely.

Back of fan-fronted dress.

Back of fan-fronted dress. Bias sleeves were common in the 1840’s and 1850’s.

I only photographed the back while it was on a padded hanger; it has a hook and eye closing.

Hooks and eyes at center back of fan-fronted dress.

Hooks and eyes at center back of fan-fronted dress.

The woman who collected this dress knew a great deal about hammered brass hook and eyes and could use them to date garments. I know nothing about them. Perhaps because the dress’ back is also gathered, there is no boning at the center back opening. (Dresses that lace up the back need that boning.)

I documented a tiny hole in the fabric, and therefore have this picture which shows the piping around the armholes; there is no piping at the side seam.

Armhole piping. l

Armhole piping, left side of dress.

Dresses with dropped shoulders, like this one, were very liable to tear at the armhole if the wearer raised her arms suddenly. This fragile fabric has survived amazingly well. (Click here for one that tore.)

Neckline of fan-fronted bodice is trimmed with lace.

Neckline of fan-fronted bodice is trimmed with lace.

The lace didn’t survive as well as the dress. I know very little about lace. Is this machine-made? It may well be.

Did the original owner wear sheer engageants — interchangeable sleeves — with this dress? I don’t know. The sleeves themselves are not tight, but roomy.

My hat’s off to the dressmaker, who cleverly used the stripes in the fabric as guidelines for all her hand gathering stitches!

Dating? A Fan-front bodice pattern from Past Patterns is based on a dress from the 1840’s. Click here to see Past Patterns No. 801. I once owned a completely hand-stitched fan-fronted bodice in apple-green striped silk; it had pagoda sleeves. As the Past Patterns site points out, photos from the 1850’s also show women wearing similar dresses.

I do hope someone who really knows Early Victorian styles can help to put a date on this dress, although there was a considerable time lag between city and country styles, so real precision is impossible without provenance.  Who knows, someone may find a photo of it being worn!

Edited:  This link added Aug. 9, 2015:  another light weight cotton dress, dated 1860, with bias-cut ruffles, was pictured and described by Alys Mak-Pilsworth at the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection.   Click here.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, Costumes for the 19th century, Dresses, Early Victorian fashions, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Le Smoking: Nothing New Under the Sun

Although Yves Saint Laurent is (rightly) credited with popularizing the tuxedo for women, called “Le Smoking” (click here for his 1966 version,) it was an idea that had been explored before, in other decades when women began to assume traditionally masculine roles.

"Le Smoking" for women, illustrated by Humberto in 1926. From Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties, ed. Joanne Olian.

“Le Smoking” for women, illustrated by Humberto in 1926. From Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties, ed. JoAnne Olian.

The singer Dora Stoeva, Delineator magazine, March 1924. Her jacket seems to have a satin lapel, worn over a vest with white piping, but no shirt.

The singer Dora Stoeva, Delineator magazine, March 1924. Her jacket seems to have a black velvet lapel and cuffs, worn over a vest with white piping, but no shirt.

The boutonniere and pocket hanky were usual in male evening dress. The first versions of le smoking may have appeared before the nineteen twenties. In fact, this Punch cartoon reprinted in The Way to Wear-em, by Christina Walkley, deserves more research:

Cartoon by Sambourne, 1880, from Walkley's book The Way to Wear'em.

Cartoon by Sambourne, 1880, from Walkley’s book The Way to Wear’em.

The caption purports to be a quotation from Journal des Modes, 1st April, and says:

” ‘Man or Woman?” — A toss up. ‘Dresses are still universally cut en coeur. A very dressy toilette, and one, much worn now, for the Evening, is of black Broche or cloth material cut en Habit d’Homme, with plain or kilted skirt, very tight; for fair ladies it is very becoming to omit a tucker, and have the black and white with no softening.”

Anyone with access to Journal des Modes, from about 1879 to 1880, might have fun looking for the page that inspired the cartoonist — and the original illustration, if any.

Meanwhile, here’s a closer look at those “smokings” for women from 1926:

Les Smokings de 1926.

Les Smokings de 1926.

From the left:

Black "grain de poudre" "smoking," silk revers, wide-ribbed gray ottoman waistcoat. 1926

Black “grain de poudre” “smoking,” silk revers, wide-ribbed gray ottoman waistcoat. 1926

She is also wearing a Victorian-looking ruffled tuxedo shirt with a simply tied black ribbon in place of a bow tie. The skirt appears to have a center front pleat.

Don’t be misled by the black and white illustrations; this “smoking” is not black, but ivory white.

"Ivory silk serge 'smoking,' gold lame waistcoat, gold gardenia."  1926

“Ivory silk serge ‘smoking,’ gold lame waistcoat, gold gardenia.” 1926

It also is worn with a pleated skirt. The “smoking” below is not black, either:

"Light gray rep 'smoking," satin shawl collar, white silk rep waistcoat." 1926

“Light gray rep ‘smoking,’ satin shawl collar, white silk rep waistcoat.” 1926

Under it, there’s a woman’s V-neck shawl collared blouse with French cuffs. She wears a monocle on a ribbon, rather than a necklace.

"Plum colored woolen 'smoking,' matching silk revers, cream silk waistcoat." 1926

“Plum colored woolen ‘smoking,’ matching silk revers, cream silk waistcoat.” 1926

A man’s tuxedo shirt would not have as many buttons as this pleated shirt has;  it has a slight standing collar instead of a wing collar, and has a silk ribbon tied once, rather than a bow tie. I especially like the strip of braid at the side of the skirt; men’s tuxedo trousers always had such braid at the side seams.

In the nineteen twenties and thirties, men’s formal evening dress and tuxedos were sometimes navy blue, instead of black. It was thought that navy looked better under the lighting at dances and dinner parties. [This is a problem for theatrical costumers drawing from real period stock; navy blue wool can turn surprising colors under stage lights, including brown, maroon, or cranberry red.]

The illustration by Humberto is taken from JoAnne Olian’s Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties, page 108, dated February 27, 1926. It’s available in paperback or as a Nook Book.

The woman’s tuxedo suit has longevity. This one, by Yves Saint Laurent, in the collection of the Metropolitan museum, dates to 1973-77.

Yves Saint Laurent "Smoking," 1973-77. Photo courtesy of Metropolitain Museum.

Yves Saint Laurent “Smoking,” 1973-77. Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum.

This one, from Donna Karan, appeared in 1998:

Vogue pattern 2165, Donna Karan, 1998.

Vogue pattern 2165, Donna Karan, 1998.

And these celebrities all wore tuxedo suits to the same event in 2011. (Click here.) Described at popsugar.

Marie Claire showed this (undated) version even more recently. Click Here.

Viva le smoking!

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Filed under 1920s, 1960s-1970s, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Musings: Airplanes and Fashion

Collage of Women Taking Flying Lessons. Some photos are dated 1919. Courtesy of RememberedSummers.

Collage of Women Taking Flying Lessons. One photo is dated 1919. Courtesy of RememberedSummers.

A fellow costumer recommended a truly remarkable website — Cliff Muskiet’s Stewardess/Flight Attendant Uniform Collection — so in addition to providing a link to it, I thought I’d share some vintage flying-related photos from RememberedSummers, and some links to “helmet” cloche hats, which some people have associated with WW I flying helmets.

Cliff Muskiet’s Flight Attendant Uniform Site, Uniformfreak.com

First, Cliff Muskiet has put together a remarkable source for any one who needs to find out what was being worn by flight attendants at a given airline in many periods. Click here for Cliff Muskiet’s Home page. His uniformfreak website is a treasure house of good photographs of his remarkable collection, which is remarkably well organized, too. Click here to see his alphabetical list of airlines whose uniforms he has photographed. They are organized by date within each airline, although there’s no search availability.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Delta Airlines — very chic in 1970- 73. Braniff International designs by Pucci (scroll down through several years.) Air France had special uniforms for Concorde and for flights to Tahiti. British Caledonian featured plaids; Tyrolean Airways really went for an ethnic flavor. There are over 1400 uniforms on this site, with new ones being added. Brilliant job, Mr. Muskiet!

For more about Emilio Pucci’s designs for Braniff Airlines, click here.

Dressed for Flying, circa 1920.

Next, these photos of two young California women taking flying lessons (or at least, wearing leather flying jackets and helmet and goggles) are dated 1919 and 1921.

Two young women posing with airplane propellers, dated 1919, may be later. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

Two young women with wooden airplane propellers, posing in their normal clothing; dated 1919, may be later. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

"Dot" in flying gear, about 1920. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

“Dot” in flying gear, about 1920. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

Isobel in flying gear, about 1920. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

Isobel in flying gear, about 1920. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

The plane is an open-cockpit biplane, with cloth covered wings.

Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

Young woman and biplane. Photo copyright RememberedSummers.

Helmet Hats, 1920’s

Fascination Street Vintage has just posted a group of marvelous hat photos, including this picture of young actress Loretta Young wearing a cloche trimmed with airplane pins.

Click here for movie star Gloria Swanson in a tightly fitted helmet cloche that is covered with embroidery.

Click here for Fascination Street’s entire 1920’s hat post.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Coats, Hats, Uniforms and Work Clothes, vintage photographs

Pacific Mills

Pacific Mills advertisement, Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1937. "Maid of Pacific" rayon twill.

Pacific Mills advertisement, Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1937. “Maid of Pacific” rayon twill.

I found a whole series of advertisements for clothing made with Pacific Mills fabrics in the Woman’s Home Companion, 1936 and 1937. (I have not examined other years — and only done these years partially.) I’m currently reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth L. Cline, so finding an American fabric mill that proudly put its own hang-tag on garments made by various manufacturers was another reminder of the days when quality mattered to shoppers.

Pacific Mills "Maid of Pacific" rayon hangtag. WHC, Nov. 1937.

Pacific Mills “Maid of Pacific” rayon hangtag. WHC, Nov. 1937. “Crown Spun Rayon. . . laboratory-tested fabric construction, color fastness, and all wearing qualities.”

Pacific Mills also advertised in The Ladies’ Home Journal in the late 1930s. Full color ads for Pacific Mills fabrics — especially woolens — can be found online dating to the 1940’s and 1950’s as well. (Search for “Pacific Mills Ad”)

The Vintage Traveler recently showed a photo of a woman playing golf while wearing a playsuit under her open dress (click here to see it), and that reminded me of these playsuits shown in Pacific Mills ads:

Playsuits made from Pacific Mills fabrics, June and May, 1937. WHC.

Playsuits made from Pacific Mills fabrics, June and May, 1937. WHC.

Pacific Mills fabrics for cruise wear, April 1937. WHC.

Pacific Mills fabrics for cruise wear, April 1937. WHC.

The Vintage Traveler has described the rise and fall of many American textile mills (Mitchell Company, Lilly Mills, etc.) and I can’t hope to match her scholarship. A year ago, I couldn’t find anything about Pacific Mills online; now, I find that the company began in “1852 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where it manufactured prints and fancy cottons as well as worsted goods in its woolen mill operations.” [Click here for source.] Pacific Mills acquired more mills near Columbia, South Carolina in the 1900s, and expanded to Lyman, South Carolina, around 1924, where the town grew up around it. Some Pacific mills produced sheeting; I’m not sure which mill produced the printed fabrics in cotton and rayon which are featured in these 1930’s advertisements.

"All Set for Cruising," Ad for Pacific Mills Sportswear Cottons, WHC; April 1937.

“All Set for Cruising,” Ad for Pacific Mills Sportswear Cottons, WHC; April 1937.

Pacific Mills Sportswear Cottons ad, April 1937:    "Jauntaire, a linen-weave cotton; Pamico Crash, a rugged peasant-weave; Ker-Splash, a clever shantung-weave broadcloth; and Piqueway, an attractive printed pique."

Pacific Mills Sportswear Cottons ad, April 1937: “Jauntaire, a linen-weave cotton; Pamico Crash, a rugged peasant-weave; Ker-Splash, a clever shantung-weave broadcloth; and Piqueway, an attractive printed pique.”

In the 1970’s, the mill at Lyman was producing “7,000,000 yards per week of woven fabrics from 36″ to 110″ in width, over a broad range of weight from very light to bottom weights, decorated by roller printing, screen printing, beck dyeing and continuous dyeing. End use was generally apparel and sheeting. . . .” according to the Textile History site. (Click here to read the article.)

Pacific Mills "Crinkle" cottons, Ad in Woman's Home Companion, June 1937. Variations on seersucker, they needed no ironing.

Pacific Mills “Crinkle” cottons, Ad in Woman’s Home Companion, June 1937. Variations on seersucker, they needed no ironing.

Pacific Mills Crinkle cottons:  "Idlease, a medium weight seersucker; for spectator sports, afternoon and evening, Blister Sheer, a very light weight." June, 1937 ad.

Pacific Mills Crinkle cottons: “Idlease, a medium weight seersucker; for spectator sports, afternoon and evening, Blister Sheer, a very light weight.” June, 1937 ad.

“Not illustrated, but just as important, are these other Pacific Crinkles, Kwanta Crepe, Cris Crinkle, and Flock Crinkle. Look at these dresses of smart cottons and you’ll want them. . . . At smart stores everywhere … all identified by the Pacific hang-tag, your assurance not only of style-rightness but of unusual value.” — Ad in Woman’s Home Companion, June 1937.

Pacific Mills Tropical Prints ad, Woman's Home Companion, May 1937.

Pacific Mills Tropical Prints ad, Woman’s Home Companion, May 1937.

1937 may p 48 tropical bike pacific prints ad

Pacific Mills' Tropical Prints ad, May 1937. "Cotton shops in smart stores everywhere are now featuring these Pacific Tropical Prints in a variety of amusing designs."

Pacific Mills’ Tropical Prints ad, May 1937. “Cotton shops in smart stores everywhere are now featuring these Pacific Tropical Prints in a variety of amusing designs.”

“How diverting it will be to wear a playsuit of Sand’ Land pique in a frolicsome sea-horse print . . . a sports frock of Cris Crinkle crepe in a whimsical little airplane design  . . . plus-fours and shirt in Lingolyn, very nautically inclined with an all-over design of anchors and ropes.”

Pacific Mills also made fabrics from rayon and other synthetics.

Pacific Mills ad for synthetic fabric, "Gem-o-Sheer. WHC, May 1937.

Pacific Mills ad for synthetic fabric, “Gem-O-Sheer. WHC, May 1937.

Pacific Mills "Gem-O-Sheer" ad:  ... new sheer synthetic by Pacific. It's cool, washable, serviceable. Designs are smart and colorful, and the texture is soft and dainty." May, 1937.

Pacific Mills “Gem-O-Sheer” ad: “… new sheer synthetic by Pacific. It’s cool, washable, serviceable. Designs are smart and colorful, and the texture is soft and dainty.” May, 1937.

Pacific Mills ad, Ladies' Home journal, Oct. 1936.

Pacific Mills ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1936.

Pacific Mills fabrics for lounging pajamas, housecoats, smocks, dresses. Ad, LHJ, Oct. 1936.

Pacific Mills fabrics for lounging pajamas, housecoats, smocks, dresses. Ad, LHJ, Oct. 1936. ” Cris Crinkle, Smoc-Toc, and Notable Crepe hang-tags.

“Here are quaint Tyrolean prints . . . exquisite Chinese porcelain and carved ivory effects . . . Flemish and French Renaissance motifs . . . border designs from Persia and Mexico. Here, too, are pictorial prints of contemporary events:  the launching of the Queen Mary . . . the approaching election . . . the Chinese Fair in London.” For some fashions showing Chinese-influenced fabrics, click here.

“Cris Crinkle  is a permanently crinkled cotton that requires no ironing; Smoc-Toc, a peasant cotton; Notable Crepe, a cotton and rayon mixture. All are fast to washing.”

This dress is made of rayon:

Pacific Mills Crown Rayon fabric ad, WHC, Oct. 1937.

Pacific Mills Crown Rayon fabric ad, WHC, Oct. 1937.

Maid of  Pacific Crown Rayon, Pacific Mills Ad, Oct. 1937.

Maid of Pacific Crown Rayon, Pacific Mills Ad, Oct. 1937.

“This new twill-weave spun rayon does things for you. Soft dull texture, distinctive designs, rich colorings — all combine to bring out the best  in you and make the simplest frock distinguished.” “Look for the Maid of Pacific selvage-marking or hang tags and the Crown Tested insignia . . . your assurance of complete, lasting satisfaction.”

The Pacific Mills woolen fabrics which were produced in Massachusetts in the 19th century continued to be a mainstay.

Pacific Mills wool flannel for the college campus -- ad from Woman's Home Companion, Sept. 1936.

Pacific Mills wool flannel for the college campus — ad from Woman’s Home Companion, Sept. 1936.

Ad for Pacific Mills wool flannel, WHC, Dec. 1936.

Ad for Pacific Mills wool flannel, WHC, Dec. 1936.

Pacific Flannels hang-tag in ad from WHC, Dec. 1936.

Pacific Flannel “100% wool” hang-tag in ad from WHC, Dec. 1936.

Pacific Mills continued to produce (and advertise) wool fabrics for men’s and women’s suits in the nineteen fifties and sixties. (Click here for a typical ad.) A search for “pacific mills ad” images brings up many lovely, full-color examples.

It’s a little surprising that there was no “product-tie-in” in these ads, naming the companies that used Pacific Mills textiles — or sharing the cost of the advertising!

The mill itself, in Lawrence, MA, is now renovated and rents commercial space to many businesses. (Click here.) The gallery has images of mill workers – mostly female — from the turn of the century and the 1920s. (Click here.)

The mill in Lyman, South Carolina, once the heart of the community, where Pacific Mills had built 325 homes, a community center, a twelve room schoolhouse, churches, a public swimming pool, and services for senior citizens, was sold to Burlington in 1954 and again to M. Lowenstein & Sons. (Click here.) It was sold again, and the Lyman mill was demolished in 2012. Click here for an article about its destruction.

I still have no idea why a textile mill in Massachusetts — and South Carolina — was called “Pacific” Mills.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear

Collapsible Hats by Agnes, 1937

Two packable hats for travel; by Agnes, Woman's Home Companion, Oct. 1937.

Two packable hats for travel; by Agnes, Woman’s Home Companion, Oct. 1937.

Agnès (also known as Madame Agnès)  was one of the most fashionable French hat-makers of the 1920’s and after. (Click here for more about her label.) Here is one of her tight-fitting evening turbans from 1929.

Agnes evening turban of fine gold mesh, 1929. Delineator, Jan. 1929.

Agnes evening turban of fine gold mesh, 1929. Delineator, Jan. 1929.

The Metropolitan Museum has several hats by Agnès:

Black velvet and matte black fabric hat by Madame Agnes, 1929. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

Black velvet and matte black fabric hat by Madame Agnes, 1929. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

A whimsical little hat by Madame Agnes, 1937. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

A whimsical little hat by Madame Agnes, 1937. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

Hats like this were often worn tilted far to the front of the head, over one eye.

Hats from Butterick Fashion News illustrations, 1938-39.

Hats from Butterick Fashion News illustrations, 1938-39.

However, bigger hats, often with an elongated crown like this one by Agnès, were also worn in the 1930’s. ( Schiaparelli also designed hats like men’s fedoras, but with tall, narrow tops like this.)

Straw hat by Madame Agnes, 1938. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

Straw hat by Madame Agnes, 1938. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

Hats pictured in Butterick Fashion News, April 1938.

Hats pictured in Butterick Fashion News, April 1938.

The two hats by Madame Agnès pictured at the top of the post have a lot in common with these styles, but the Agnès hats were cleverly constructed so that they could be deconstructed and flattened, or rolled, to fit in a suitcase.

Casual hat that can be packed flat, by Agnes, 1937. Woman's Come Companion, Oct. 1937.

Casual snapped hat that can be packed flat, by Agnes, 1937. Woman’s Home Companion, Oct. 1937.

In her “Letter from our Paris Fashion Correspondent,”  Marjorie Howard described two hats by Agnès, one that snapped together (above) and a hat that rolled into a long strip, and zipped into shape using a slide fastener.

Here’s how Marjorie Howard described the “snapper” hat, above:

“Large snap fastenings, the original ones in translucent green on black felt, run down the side of the crown which is just a flat piece when they are undone, and join the two ends of the brim. Two flat bits are all that remain when the snaps are open and they pack as easily as a scarf or handkerchief. A clever woman could construct the snapper hat for herself; though I am not sure that she could succeed with the other one.”

This hat by Agnes (1937) is held together by a long, continuous zipper (slide fastener) and can be unzipped and roller up for packing. Woman's Home Companion, Oct. 1937.

This hat by Agnes (1937) is held together by a long, continuous zipper (slide fastener) and can be unzipped and rolled up for packing.  Woman’s Home Companion, Oct. 1937.

“The cleverest I have seen lately are Agnès’ two felts, intended primarily for October weekends when you travel in a car and must curtail your luggage. Both of them come to pieces and pack flat or in any suitcase corner. One  is a long curved strip of felt with metal slide fastenings cleverly disposed along the edges. You begin at the top, slip one end of the slide fastening into the other and wind spirally till your hat emerges, crown, brim and all. And it really works for I have tried it. To pack you unzip and roll the strip into a ball….

“It is pretty tricky to cut. Agnès told me that it took her three weeks of experimentation to work it out properly. The curve has to be accurate as an engineer’s working model.” — Marjorie Howard, Woman’s Home Companion, p. 81; October 1937.”

Although Howard says she zipped this hat up starting at the crown, the fact that the illustration shows the zipper pull at the top of the hat implies to me that that was where the zipping ended, as when you zip up the front of a jacket. Or perhaps the illustrator took liberties.  The dressesandhats blog has a bigger, better picture of the Zipper Hat.  Click here.

American Charles James designed a dress with a zipper that spiraled all the way around it in 1929(!), but I don’t think practicality was his main goal.

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Filed under 1930s, Hats, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Accessories, Zippers

Flounces, Tiers, and Great Big Bows; 1928-1929

This is a variation on my “Hems Going Down” posts. (Part 1:  1926)  (Part 2:  1928.) While collecting images of 1920’s dresses with high-low hemlines, side drapes, back drapes, and handkerchief hems, I realized that I had quite a lot of pictures of late twenties’ dresses with tiers of flounces, often sharing a page with dresses that feature gigantic bows which flow into side drapes, etc.

Formal Frocks for tthe Holidays, Delineator, Dec. 1928. Butterick patterns 2347 & 2367.

“Formal Frocks for the Holidays;” Delineator, Dec. 1928. Butterick patterns 2347 & 2367.

Paris led the way, with couture frocks of increasing complexity. This simple, flounced, formal gown is by Chanel:

Formal gown by Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Formal gown by Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“This frock, stiffened at the edges, embroidered with chenille, is black net. From Chanel.”

So is this much more complicated red gown, trimmed with a huge bow:

Velveteen evening frock from Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Velveteen evening frock from Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“Velveteen is now an evening fabric. Chanel has chosen it in red in a very stiff quality for this frock.” The complexity of that cut would be daunting for a stitcher, in any fabric!

Evening gown by Lucien Lelong, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Evening gown by Lucien Lelong, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“This is the new tulle frock of the winter — it is all in tulle, from flowers to hemline. Lelong.” Note Lelong’s  indecision about the waistline, with the dress’ belt lower than the waist of the slip.

Evening dress by Vionnet, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Evening dress by Vionnet, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“White chiffon and the glitter of white strass and crystal beads are used by Vionnet for this frock.” ‘Strass’ refers to a type of rhinestone. The skirt looks heavy with beading, and it seems to have a draped (cowl) neckline.

Evening dress by louiseboulanger, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Paris evening dress by Louiseboulanger, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“Here Louiseboulanger has revived old-fashioned brocaded satin in brilliant yellow.” [Louise Boulanger’s design house used her name as one word, frequently all in lowercase letters.] Note the enormous amount of fabric used in the side drape — perhaps as much as used for the dress itself!

These dresses by Chanel and Lelong illustrate the accompanying text from The Delineator:

Chanel, left and Lelong, right. Illustrated in Nov. 1928.

Chanel, left and Lelong, right. Illustrated in Nov. 1928.

“The full skirt  . . . drops at the back in a graceful point almost touching the floor, with a molded bodice cut higher than the slip, giving the effect of a transparent yoke of lace or chiffon . . . . The skirts, almost without exception, have an uneven hemline, and while the favorite movement is toward the back, there are many which have a diagonal line with a deep point on one side. [Like the Vionnet.]

If there was any doubt about how quickly Butterick’s Paris office could translate designer fashions into patterns for its customers, here are six Butterick patterns which appeared in that same November 1928 issue of Butterick’s Delineator magazine:

For Dancing, Dining and the Opera, Butterick patterns 2312, 2314, 2307. Delineator, Nov 1928.

“For Dancing, Dining and the Opera,” Butterick patterns 2312, 2314, 2307. Delineator, Nov. 1928. The center dress, if made in softer fabric and without the rose trim, would come very close to the black, chenille-embroidered Chanel.

Dresses for Dancing, Dining and the Opera, Delineator, nov. 1928. Butterick patterns 2315, 2317, 2325. Jacket 1367.

Dresses “for Dancing, Dining and the Opera,” Delineator, Nov. 1928. Butterick patterns 2315, 2317, 2325. Jacket 1367. The jacket was called a “bridge jacket.”

The bow construction on Butterick 2317 deserves a closer look:

A massive amount of fabric is ruched into the bow of Butterick 2317, Nov. 1928.

A massive amount of fabric is ruched into the bow of Butterick 2317, Nov. 1928.

Tiers and flounces were also featured in these 1928 patterns:

Butterick patterns 2325, 2314. Delineator, Dec. 1928.

Butterick patterns 2325, 2314. Delineator, Dec. 1928. The afternoon dress on the left has a high-low hem.

Butterick patterns 2297. 2301, and 2315. Nov. 1928; Delineator.

Butterick patterns 2297. 2301, and 2315. Nov. 1928; Delineator. [The dress on the right, made sleeveless, is the black evening dress shown above with a bridge jacket.]

Butterick patterns  2379, 2287, 2366. Delineator, Dec. 1928.

Butterick patterns 2379, 2287, 2366. Delineator, Dec. 1928.

The one on the left above has flounces and a bow. The high/low-hemmed dress at right is for a young woman.

“This lace frock is the most formal of daytime fashions.” Butterick 2430. Butterick 2446, right, has a cowl neckline attributed to Vionnet. It’s rather austere, except for its enormous bow. Feb. 1929, Delineator.

Flounces and great big bows: Butterick patterns 2448 and 2468, Delineator, Feb. 1929.

Flounces and great big bows: Butterick patterns 2448 and 2468, Delineator, Feb. 1929. The “bow” on the left seems to be flounces stiffened with horsehair.

Nothing succeeds like excess.

Delineator, December 1928.

Delineator, December 1928.

Although the “pillow” bow on the right is outrageous, the curved seams in the chiffon dress (far left) and the lace dress (center right) are real tests of sewing skill. The lace dress has both the uneven hem and sheer top  [“the effect of a transparent yoke of lace or chiffon . . . . The skirts, almost without exception, have an uneven hemline.”] described in The Delineator.

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Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns