Tag Archives: Agnes

Andre Collection at NY Public Library Digital Collections

Andre Studio Collection: Reefer Coat design by Pearl Levy Alexander, 1939. Copywight New Your Public Library.

Andre Studio Collection: Reefer Coat design by Pearl Levy Alexander, 1939. Image Copyright New York Public Library.

Andre Studios in New York was a business which produced sketches of French couture, with variations for the American market, selling the sketches to clothing manufacturers from about 1930 on. A collection of 1,246 Andre Studios sketches from the 1930’s is now available online from New York Public Library and from the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA.)  The name on most of the sketches is Pearl Levy Alexander, and that is the best online search term.

NOTE: please do not copy or republish these images; their copyright belongs to the New York Public Library and they have been made low resolution as required by NYPL.

An excellent article about the Andre collection can be found here as a pdf. (The name of the article’s author is missing!) It explains how (usually unauthorized) sketches of couture wound up in the hands of dress manufacturers, to be copied or modified as they worked their way down the economic scale, eventually reaching the cheapest parts of the mass market.

In fact, Pearl Levy Alexander signed/designed many hundreds of sketches which included Andre Studios’ suggested modifications and variations of current designs.

The designs in the Andre Collection may include adaptations suitable to the American market, but some have attributions to known couturiers — e.g., “Import R” was their code for Patou —  as on this red wool siren suit (for wearing in air raid shelters) designed by Jean Patou in 1939.

Andre Studio's sketch of a red wool

Andre Studios’ sketch of a red wool “siren suit” by Patou. 1939. “R” was the import code used for Patou. Image Copyright New York Public Library.

You can recognize Andre’s “Import Sketches” of original couture because they were done in black and white; the modified designs, suitable for U.S. manufacture, are more elaborate drawings and use some gouache — white or colored watercolor. This “black marocain” suit is an actual sketch of a Chanel model; in the lower right corner you can see “Spring/Summer 1938; Import Code J = Chanel.”

This sketch says “Designed by Pearl Alexander” but acknowledges that it is “after Molyneux” — not an exact copy.

This boxy coat with construction details is Alexander's modification of a Molyneux design. Copyright NYPL, Andre Collection.

“Boxy coat after Molyneux” 1940, designed by Pearl Alexander, is Alexander’s modification of a Molyneux design. Image Copyright NYPL, Andre Collection.

On the other hand, this suit, dated 1/30/39, simply says it is designed by Pearl Levy Alexander. The sketch is highlighted with white opaque watercolor (gouache) and has a pink hat and blouse.

This black and white sketch is a 1938 suit by Schiaparelli (Import Code AO):

Andre Studio sketch of an original Schiaparelli Suit, with a note about the embroidery. Copyright New York Public Library.

Andre Studios’ sketch of an original Schiaparelli suit, with a note about the embroidery. (1938) Copyright New York Public Library.

If you are looking for designs by particular couturiers, look at the last two images in the collection. They are lists of designers’ names; the “Import Key” for Spring/Summer 1938 is a long list of designers whose work was sketched for Andre’s manufacturing customers, including Chanel, Heim, Lanvin, Vionnet, Nina Ricci, Redfern, Mainbocher, Patou, Paquin, Schiaparelli, Worth, and many less remembered designers, like Goupy, Philippe et Gaston, Bernard, Jenny, et al. You can see it by clicking here.  A search for these individual names may (but may not) lead to a sketch. (There’s also an Import Key for 1939-40.)

Mainbocher design, Andre Studio Sketch. Copyright New York Public Library.

Mainbocher design, 1938; Andre Studios Sketch. Image Copyright New York Public Library.

World War II momentarily cut off free access to Parisian designs, and this particular NYPL collection of sketches ends in 1939-40. However, Andre Studios continued to produce sketches into the 1970’s.

Three Sources for Andre Studios Research

In addition to the portion of the Andre Studios collection donated to New York Public Library — over 1,200 sketches made available online — the Fashion Institute of Technology (NY) and the Parsons School of Design also received parts of the collection of Andre Studios’ sketches and scrapbooks, photos, news clippings, etc., which were donated by Walter Teitelbaum to (and divided among) all three institutions.

The Parsons School has information about its Andre Studios collection here, including this sketch of four coats designed by Dior in 1953. Parson also supplies information about other places with Andre Studios and Pearl Alexander archives.

FIT has not digitized its part of the collection, but researchers can visit it. For information, click here.

Bonus: More Thirties Designs in the NYPL Mid-Manhattan Collection Online

Image from New York Public Library's Mid Manhattan Collection. Copyright NYPL.

Image from New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan Collection. Copyright NYPL. “Dormoy’s Frock, Agnes hat, Chanel, Molyneux, Mainbocher.”

Another, completely different collection of fashion sketches from the 1930’s — many in full color — can be found here, at the NYPL digital collection, in the Mid-Manhattan Collection. [Note, when I asked it to sort “Costumes 1930s” by “date created,” images from 1937 came before images from 1935, so don’t assume it’s chronological.]

Nevertheless, if you explore the alphabetical list at the left of the Mid-Manhattan Collections page, scroll down, down down under Costume, and you’ll find many images by decade, before and after the nineteen thirties! I was surprised by this 1850’s bathing costume cartoon:

Morning, Noon and evening dress for a

Morning, Noon and evening dress for a “Watering Place.” Image copyright New York Public Library.

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Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Bathing Suits, Exhibitions & Museums, Resources for Costumers, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage Couture Designs

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

Fashions from Paris, January 1924

Illustration from January 1924 Deliineator. Not by Soulie.

An illustration — not by Soulie — from January 1924 Delineator. 

 

“Soulié’s Sketches Sent from The Delineator’s Paris Establishment Draw Attention to Godets, Princess Lines, and Frills Flat or Otherwise.” — Headline in Delineator Magazine, January 1924

Butterick Publishing Company kept an office in Paris for the purpose of following the  latest fashion trends and reporting on them. (Not to mention producing Butterick patterns based on those trends.)

In January of 1924, Soulié sketched designs by several well-known Paris houses:  Patou, Agnès, Doucet, Louise Boulanger, and Poiret. Since Downton Abbey’s current season is set in 1924, this seems like a good time to show some 1924 French designs. (Even though my real interest is in clothing for ordinary people, the influence of major French designers always percolates down through the department stores and pattern houses.)

Jean Patou

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

“A coat that has quite the cut of a suit is made by Patou of black kid lined throughout with persisky — a form of civet — and trimmed with straps.”  [In other words, this is a soft leather coat lined with fur.]

“Flat frills begin where the straight coat ends in a suit of green fulgarante with a knee-length bodice of green and gold brocade with collar and cuffs of gray fox. From Jean Patou.” [“Fulgarante” is apparently one of those words with a specialized meaning to fashion writers; it is Spanish for “blazing.”]

Agnès

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

“Suit coats are of all lengths and many cuts, but the string-tied jacket and narrow skirt remain as popular as ever. Agnès uses them for a suit of beige zibella velours de laine with bearskin collar and cuffs.” In January of 1913, the New York Times reported that “Velour de laine, that soft, silky woolen tissue that arrived in the Autumn and was so popular till satins and silks usurped its place later, has now reappeared ….” [ Velours means velvet, laine means wool, and zibella is a mystery to me!]

“Gold braid underscored with rose-colored embroidery binds the slashed edges of an overdress and tunic of black crêpe marocain.  The foundation is narrow, the sleeve short, and the length about eight inches from the floor. From  Agnès.” You can find out more about Agnès, and see one of her dresses, at 1stdibs. Click here.

Paul Poiret

A Dress and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A dress with metallic threads and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“For the new note of gorgeousness that the French dressmakers are introducing, Poiret uses embroidery of silver and gold on a dress of blue poplacote moire.” [Poplacote is another term my search engine has never encountered.]

“Poiret uses suède-colored sapho velvet trimmed with civet cat for a wrap that hides the fact that it is a coat under cape-like sides lined with black satin.” There is a brief biography of Paul Poiret at Encyclopedia Britannica (click here).  The Metropolitan Museum devoted an exhibition to Poiret in 2007; click here to visit it online. You can see his iconic “lampshade” dress of 1912 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Click here. (Be sure to look at the second image — the color and beadwork is lovely.)

Louise Boulanger [She later designed as Louiseboulanger.]

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“The Ladies’ Book of 1924 is to show godets in skirts and capes according to an interesting coat of green wool duvetyn [a brushed woolen fabric] with a civet collar from Louise Boulanger.” You can see another 1920s dress by Louiseboulanger in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Click here.

“Also from Louise Boulanger comes a dress of bright blue matelassé flared at the foot, banded low on the hip and embroidered in gold on copper at the V neck.”  [The Fashion Model Directory says Louise Boulanger worked for Cheruit until 1927, but the Delineator attributed these designs to her in 1924.]

Doucet

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“Doucet’s characteristic elegance speaks for itself in an evening gown of steel lace over a blue silk slip.  A girdle of blue chenille fringe is clasped with a  motif of diamonds and blue stras. [Stras is a type of artifical jewel.]”  The illustration shows the shoulder drape of the the black dress on the right hanging confusingly in front of the light-colored dress on the left — it does not have a black panel in front! You can read more about Jacques Doucet at Fashion Model Directory; click here.

“The new princess line, flat, beltless and narrow, shows itself to great advantage in a Doucet gown of black crêpe velours embroidered with blue and gold Chinese motifs.”

A Few Observations About These Fashions from  January 1924

  • Skirts are still quite long — only 8 inches from the ground.
  • All the models have short, “bobbed” hair.
  • Most of these designs have strong accents at the hip; only the heavily embroidered  Doucet  gown is a tube.
  • The “princess line” is “new.”
  • Fur adds a note of luxury to all the daytime fashions, either as collars, cuffs, belts, (even coat lining,) or carried as a stole or muff.
  • Soulié has drawn most of the models wearing rather high heels, which means the skirts are very long to still be 8″ above the floor.

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Filed under 1920s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hairstyles, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Day Dresses for November, 1934

Butterick dress patterns for "High Noon," November 1934. Nos. 5961, 5955, and 5857.

Butterick dress patterns for “High Noon,” November 1934. Nos. 5961, 5955, and 5857. From The Delineator magazine. Photographer not named.

High Noon

“If you sit in the lobby of any smart luncheon place at high noon, you’ll see these smart women come in. The one who wears a tailored tweed dress, 5961 [left], with careful details — small collar, pockets, buttons, pleats, stitching.  The one who wears a black wool dress, 5957 [right], with slits in the streamline skirt and a shining satin sash.  The one who wears a bright crepe dress, 5955 [center], punctuated at neckline and wrists with black. There’s a look of Jodelle about the lovely, simple lines. . . . Cheney fabric. Delman shoes. Lilly Daché hat. Furs from Jaekel.”

Butterick 5961

Butterick pattern No. 5961, Nov. 1934, Delineator magazine.

Butterick pattern No. 5961, Nov. 1934, The Delineator magazine.

I confess that this is my favorite. It has so many great details, including that yoke extending into sleeves; the intriguing pocket shapes, copied on the skirt; and the big button accents. On the other hand, matching the large-scale plaid was undoubtedly easier for the illustrator than it would be for the home stitcher!

1934 nov high noon 5961 left top

“5961:  The kind of tailored clothes that came out of Paris are the kind with interesting details — stitching, slot seams, amusing pockets, slit skirts. As Agnes-Drecoll uses details, we used them in this plaid wool dress. For 36 (size 18), 3 yards, 54-inch wool.  Designed for 12 to 20; 30 to 42 [inch bust measure.]”

Not what we think of as a 'slit skirt' today: Butterick #5961, 1934.

Not what we think of as a ‘slit skirt’ today: Butterick #5961, 1934. It wouldn’t make walking much easier….

Butterick 5955

Butterick pattern No. 5955, with Lilly Dache hat. November 1934 Delineator magazine.

Butterick pattern No. 5955, with Lilly Dache hat. November 1934 The Delineator magazine.

“As Jodelle grows familiar, you recognize the simplicity of her lines. Like our dress with its convertible collar, they suit everyone. . . . Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40 [inch bust measure.] “

Butterick pattern No. 5955, Delineator, Nov. 1934.

Butterick pattern No. 5955, The Delineator, Nov. 1934.

That’s certainly an interesting sleeve (although likely to swoop into the soup at lunch). The article gives no alternate view to explain how the collar is “convertible.” Here’s a closer look at the Lilly Daché hat, with its brim of pleated velvet:

Black velvet hat from Lilly Dache. 1934.

Black velvet hat from Lilly Dache. 1934.

I had to increase the contrast to show the hat details. According to Lizzie Bramlett, writing for the Vintage Fashion Guild, Lilly Dache’s first hat under her own name was also made of velvet. Fashion trivia fact: “In 1958 Daché hired Halston as a hat designer.”

Butterick 5957

Butterick pattern 5957, Delineator magazine, Nov. 1934.

Butterick pattern 5957, The Delineator magazine, Nov. 1934.

“5957  A new French house called Robert Piguet slit the skirts of trim wool dresses and filled them in with pleats. We make a dress like that and tie shiny satin around the waist. . . . Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40 [inch bust measure.] ”

SLit with pleats in the style of Robert Piguet, 1934. The Delineator.

Slit with pleats in the style of Robert Piguet, 1934. The Delineator.

Writing for the Vintage Fashion Guild, emmapeelpants says that the house of Robert Piguet, founded in 1933, was “the training ground for Dior, Bohan, Galanos, Balmain and Givenchy. ” That’s quite an alumni group! Like Butterick No. 5961, this dress has broad shoulders and a yoke, which makes the upper body look wider (and the hips narrower by comparison. Also notice how much the length of the thigh is exaggerated in this fashion illustration.) 1934 nov high noon right 5957 thigh lengthThe finishing touch on this dress (described in the copy as “a black wool dress,” but illustrated in red) is an exceptionally long rhinestone dress clip at the neckline, added in the illustration to continue the vertical CF seam. 1934 nov high noon right dress clip

1930s rhinestone dress clip from RememberedSummers.

1930s rhinestone dress clip from RememberedSummers.

I thought this vintage clip was long — over 2 inches — but it’s nowhere near as long as the one illustrated. The collar of #5957 would look quite different without that big piece of jewelry.

Not Quite Designer Fashions

You’ll notice that all three patterns are described with reference to specific Paris designers, but none of them claims to be an exact copy of a Paris design. “As Agnes-Drecoll uses details, we used them in this plaid wool dress.”  “There’s a look of Jodelle about the lovely, simple lines.” “Robert Piguet slit the skirts of trim wool dresses and filled them in with pleats. We make a dress like that . . . .” The Butterick Publishing Company maintained an office in Paris, partly for the purpose of reporting on the latest fashions. Back in the 1920s, it was raided by the French police on behalf of Madeleine Vionnet; they indeed found evidence that her dresses were being copied in the workshop. Vionnet sued. (Source: Betty Kirke’s brilliant book Madeleine Vionnet.)

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Hats, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

Glamorous Turbans in the 1920s

Silver lame turban, 1920s. Labeled Miss Dolores, Paris London. Made in England.

Silver lame turban. Labeled “Miss Dolores, London, Paris. Made in England.”

[8/24/14 Correction:  Thanks to Christina — see comments —  for pointing out that, based on interior construction and the label,  this is probably not an authentic 1920s turban, but a 1970s version.]

Turban worn with velvet cape, Delineator, March 1924.

Turban worn with velvet cape, Delineator, March 1924.

I associate turbans with Paul Poiret, cocoon coats, and evening wear, but they remained fashionable throughout the 1920s, and were worn with day dresses, as well as with evening clothes. This turban is being worn with a bathing costume in 1924:

Turban with bathing costume, Delineator, June 1924.

Turban with bathing costume, Delineator, June 1924.

Butterick sold the pattern for this turban, #4748, in 1924 [the number dates it to late 1923,] and illustrated it being worn with simple day dresses and more formal outfits:

Butterick #4748 with a satin dress; this may be an afternoon dress, but it is not an evening dress; satin was often worn in the daytime.

Butterick #4748 with a satin blouse; this is office or afternoon wear, but it is not an evening dress; satin was often worn in the daytime.

Butterick pattern 4748, Delineator, March 1924.

Butterick pattern 4748, Delineator, March 1924.

Turban pattern #4748, from Delineator. Left, April 1924; right, March 1924.

Turban pattern #4748, from Delineator. Left, April 1924; right, March 1924.

Turbans were worn earlier in the 1920s, too. Remembered Summers shared this photo of her mother, dated 1921. This turban is being worn with a summery white dress, by a 17 year-old girl.

Turban worn by 17 year old woman, 1921. Phot courtesy of RememberedSummers.wordpress.com

Turban worn by 17 year old woman, dated 1921. Photo courtesy of RememberedSummers.wordpress.com

(These young people eloped at about the time of the photo.) Her turban doesn’t have a feather — they are posed in front of a palm tree, and those are palm fronds.

This “turban hat of twisted ribbon” by Paris milliner Marcelle Roze was featured in Delineator magazine in May, 1924. It’s definitely more structured and hat-like than the turbans made from pattern #4748.

Turban Hat by Marcelle Roze, Delineator, May 1924.

Turban Hat by Marcelle Roze, Delineator, May 1924.

This turban was shown with a day dress in the summer of 1925:

Turban worn in pattern illustration, Delineator, June 1925.

Turban worn in pattern illustration, Delineator, June 1925.

A new turban pattern, Butterick #6634, was shown with a dress suitable for stout women; Summer, 1926.

Butterick pattern #6634 for a turban, Delineator, May 1926.

Butterick pattern #6634 for a turban, Delineator, May 1926.

That doesn’t mean the turban was going out of style. This gold lamé turban by French designer Agnès was illustrated in 1929. The jewelry is by Patou. The illustrator’s initials are D.R.

Snug-fitting gold lame turban by Agnes, January 1924. The Delineator.

Snug-fitting gold lame turban by Agnes, January 1929. The Delineator.

Which brings me back to this beautiful silver lamé turban from the collection of a friend.

Silver lame turban, jeweled, with feather. Miss Dolores label.

Silver lame turban, jeweled, with feather. Miss Dolores label.

Styr0foam wig heads are smaller than human heads, so this turban would fit a person snugly and smoothly. The jewel was enormous, sparkly, possibly paste, and hard to photograph — it was not dulled or darkened. The silver fabric was not noticeably tarnished. The feathers were soiled and worn; I think they were white, rather than gray, originally. They may have stuck up more when new.

Silver lame turban by Miss Dolores. Back view.

Silver lame turban by Miss Dolores. Top and Back view.

You can see the small piece of cloth at center back that comes from inside the hat to cover the fabric joins.

Inside of silver lame hat, showing label.

Inside of silver lame hat, showing label.

The brand name, Miss Dolores, of London and Paris, was apparently still appearing in felt hats in the 1980s, judging by the few photos I have found online, but this turban seems to be a 1920s style. I couldn’t find out much about the Miss Dolores label, but everything about this hat — with the exception of the “Miss Dolores” script — suggested the twenties to me. I could be wrong. Comments? [Corrected 8/24/14: I was wrong. Thanks for your expertise, Christina! See Comments.]

P.S. In the theatre, we usually build turbans on a close-fitting felt base. That makes them easy to put on, and the folds can be stabilized with stitching inside the creases  — I mention this just in case you’re inspired to make a turban to go with your 1920s outfits.

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Bathing Suits, Hats, Hats, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Serendipity in Hats, 1920s

I was visiting the fabulous University of North Texas online fashion collection, aimlessly browsing through the 1920s, when I found a hat that looked familiar.

This pattern illustration from Butterick’s Delineator magazine was fresh in my memory because I’ve been writing about tam-o’-shanters (right) from the mid 1920s.

Delineator, March 1924, page 33.

Delineator, March 1924, page 33.

But it’s the strange, turban-like hat on the left that I found in the UNT collection.1924 march p 33 odd hatslike U of Tx

Click here to see the Paris hat, by Agnes, that probably inspired Butterick’s illustrator. The hat in the UNT fashion collection does not have a tassel. The style is called a calotte. 

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the UNT’s mind-blowing Fashion Collection many years ago. Texas has a lot of millionaires. The wives of these oilmen are part of international society, and they bought a lot of couture — so much, that they donated their “old clothes” to the UNT collection. On my physical tour of the collection, I saw suits by Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel, among many others, often accompanied by all the original accessories worn with them, and even the illustrated swatch books that were sent to the couturiers’ regular customers, generous donors with names like Getty and Bass…. If you don’t already know about the Fashion Collection at University of North Texas, this might be a good time to pay a digital visit. Click here. When you find an item you like, click the “All Views” icon to the right (if present) to see more photos, labels, etc. This site is also listed under “Sites with Great Information” at the right of this blog. Enjoy your trip!

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Filed under 1920s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hats, Resources for Costumers, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

You Cannot Afford to be Gray in the Day of Youth: 1920s Ads for Hair Coloring

The fashions of the nineteen twenties emphasized youth. A very slender figure, boyishly short hair, lots of ‘pep’: it was hard for women over forty to embody these ideals — unless they had a little help.1926 aug p 64 top honest gray hair dye ad

Most women born in the late 1800s — and approaching their forties by 1925 —  were raised to think that obvious cosmetics and beauty aids were signs of immorality, the mark of a “painted woman.” [Even in the 1880s, wealthy urban women, of unimpeachable social standing, could get away with wearing powder and rouge, and perhaps a touch of lip color, but the wife of a small-town doctor or businessman could not risk her reputation that way.] To some people, wearing make-up was a form of deceit. This ad — asking “Are Gray-Haired Women Honest?” — plays upon that attitude, and turns it on its head, so to speak.

An Advertisement for Goldman's Hair Color Restorer, August 1926.

An Advertisement for Goldman’s Hair Color Restorer, August 1926.

“Today, gray or faded locks mean a woman is careless. . . . Nowadays the knowing woman uses a colorless liquid, clear as spring water, and just as harmless. This happy discovery restores the original shade your hair should never lose.” [Notice, it’s not a dye, it merely “restores” your hair’s natural color.] “And leaves it so silky soft, it waves or curls as in youth. Even a streak of gray ruins the effect of any bob. . . .”

1926 hair styles -- three of them are 'bobs' or 'shingles', cut very short in back.

1926 hair styles — three of them are ‘bobs’ or ‘shingles’, cut very short in back.

In the 1920s, attitudes toward visible cosmetics were changing. Young women now carried a compact containing powder and rouge in their purses (and were criticized for applying powder and lip rouge in public, at restaurant tables, for example.)  Lips were unnaturally bright or dark red — look at the lips on the gray-haired model above — and mascara and eye shadows were not subtle:

From an advertisement for Maybelline eye makeup, Delineator, May 1924.

From an advertisement for Maybelline eye makeup, Delineator, May 1924.

With young women looking so seductive, older women had to keep up the appearance of youth to compete. Advertisers played on the fears of their audience in many ways.

Does One Gray Hair Frighten You? Use Notox.

I928 dec notox top of ad gray hair marcel

Ad for Notox "corrective for gray or white hair." December, 1928.

Ad for Notox “corrective for gray or white hair.” December, 1928.

“The very nicest women use it.”

Gray Hair Comes in the Night; Use Brownatone.

Illustration by Walter Maya for Brownatone hair color. 1924.

Illustration by Walter Maya for Brownatone hair color. 1924.

“She retires, a reigning beauty whose triumphs were the envy and despair of a hundred rivals. She awakes to tragedy! In the night relentless age had laid a silvering finger on her hair. Youth betrayed by Time!”

You Cannot Afford to Be Gray — This is the Day of Youth

Ad for Brownatone hair color, 1925.

Ad for Brownatone hair color, 1925.

“Present Day hairdressing makes no allowance for Gray Hair. The shingle, the boyish bob, the masculine pompadour, the chic coiffure of closely bound hair, accents gray, faded, streaked or unevenly colored hair. You cannot afford gray hair because this is the Day of Youth.”

Decline to Be Gray as Long As Youth Beats in Your Heart

Ad for Wyeth's Sage and Sulphur Compound, October, 1928

Ad for Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur Compound, October, 1928

“As long as you feel youth in your heart, you have a right to retain it in your appearance! Gray hair need not be submitted to meekly. . . . [Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur Compound] darkens the hair so beautifully and naturally that no one can possibly tell. . . . By morning the gray hair disappears; . . . its natural color is restored and it becomes thick, glossy and lustrous, and you appear years younger.”

Choices in 1920s Hair Coloring Products

These ads are all taken from one publication, Delineator, a woman’s magazine which was published by Butterick, the sewing pattern company. Many of the advertisers’ themes are still in use today; some modern hair products are “natural,” like Wyeth’s Sage Tea and Sulphur Compound; Mary T. Goldman’s product is a “clear” color “restorer,” like products aimed at men today. Notox — scientifically produced by three Ph. D’s — colors the inside of the hair shaft , so it leaves hair shiny and “glossy and young” — like the Healthy Look™ ‘creme gloss’ I use today. Other brands advertised included Brownatone, which promised — in March, 1925 — that “You can tint gray, faded or bleached hair any color from lightest blonde to the varying shades of brown or black. . .”1925 march p 107 big text gray hair brownatone ad . . . even though it was only available in two colors, “Golden to Medium Brown” and “Dark Brown to Black.” Perhaps the product had been greatly improved since this ad appeared in February, 1924:

Brownatone Ad, February 1924. This ad says it "tints hair to natural shades of brown or black."

Brownatone Ad, February 1924. This ad says it “tints… hair to natural shades of brown or black.” (The model doesn’t look a day over thirty to me.)

Q-Ban Hair Color Restorer (say it out loud, and notice the lovely Senorita) promises only to restore dark hair. Note, it’s “not a dye.”

Q-Ban Hair Color Restorer Advertisement, March 1924.

Q-Ban Hair Color Restorer Advertisement, March 1924. “Used by men and women for over 30 years.”

“A beneficial preparation used by men and women for over 30 years. Used in privacy of your own home…. Your friends need not know.”

In 1895, a character in The Importance of Being Earnest says, of the widowed Lady Harbury, “I hear her hair has turned quite gold with grief.” “It certainly has changed its colour,” replies Lady Bracknell, “from what cause I, of course, cannot say.”

Free Trial Samples

If all these claims made a woman skeptical, she could get a free, “complete test outfit” from Mary T. Goldman, or a sample from Brownatone for just 10 cents.

On the Other Hand…

It’s hard to distinguish blonde hair from white in a black and white illustration, but I’d like to think this Paris couture model represents a mature client who refuses to dye:

A design from Paris: Agnes, January 1925.

A Paris design from Agnes, January 1925.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Couture Designs