Tag Archives: Bergdorf Goodman 1920s

90 Years Ago: Daytime Fashions for April 1927

Two views of a suit from Molyneux, left, and a sporty double-breasted suit from O’Rossen. The Molyneux suit used the same ombre striped fabric for the skirt and to trim the jacket. Delineator magazine, April 1927.

Since time forthe Easter Parade is approaching, lets take a closer look at the hats:

Left, two views of a hat from Molyneux; right, a simpler hat by Reboux. 1927.

Original description of Paris designer suits from Delineator, April 1927, p. 24.

Molyneux was one of the most influential designers of the late twenties. O’Rossen is almost forgotten today.  Another very successful French designer from the 1920’s was Louise Boulanger, whose fashion house was called Louiseboulanger. I may have shown her appliqued coat before — but it’s worth a second look (below right.)

French designer coats illustrated in Delineator, April 1927, p. 25. Left, a coat by Paquin; right, an applique-trimmed coat from Louiseboulanger.

Description of Paris coats from Delineator magazine, April 1927, p. 25.

These coats could be purchased in New York at the shop of Mary Walls. Here is a closer look at those hats:

Left, a hat from Molyneux; right, a hat by Alphonsine trimmed “with a huge taffeta ribbon bow.” 1927. They were available in New York:  the Molyneux from Mary Walls, or the Alphonsine from Saks Fifth Avenue.

If your budget did not run to couture, these Butterick patterns for Spring were also available:

Butterick coat pattern No. 1346, and dress 1386. Delineator April 1927, p. 31. The dress has closely pleated tiers cut in a scallop shape.

Descriptions and back views of Butterick 1346 and 1386, 1927.

The coat lapel is trimmed with a large “flower” made of ribbon. The hat at left is decorated with a cliquet pin. Bar pins, some of them quite large, like the one on the dress, were often shown worn like this, pinned diagonally to the front of a dress which looks too fragile to support it. 1927.

Some early 20th c. bar pins. I have worn these on my lapel or at my throat, but never diagonally on the mid- chest as seen in 1920’s illustrations.

Butterick coat pattern 1387; Frock 1392; two-piece dress pattern 137; and “jumper frock” 1372, Delineator, April 1927, p. 32. The skirt of No. 1372 hung from an under bodice, not a waistband.


Butterick 1387 and 1392, 1927.

Details of Butterick 1370 and 1372. 1372 has a bow at the neck, partly hidden by her hand..

Butterick patterns 1360, 1408, and sports wear patterns 1396 (spectator sports) and 1378 (active sports, like tennis.) Delineator, April 1927, p. 33.

The rows of parallel top-stitching on No. 1360 is a style of trim that was popular in 1917.

Butterick 1360 and 1408.

The tennis dress below is illustrated with contrasting fabric inside the pleats, which would have flashed when the wearer was in motion. I’ve also seen this in several other twenties’ illustrations.

Butterick 1396 and 1378, from 1927. The monogram shows the influence of Molyneux. That sleeve construction would be rather binding in an active tennis game,  but truly sleeveless styles were still associated with evening dress.


Butterick patterns for Teens, April 1927. The one with the black jacket is called the “tomboy suit.” Delineator, April 1927, p. 29.

Alternate views of Butterick teen fashions 1362, 1388, 1344, and 1366. April 1927 Delineator, p. 29.

Butterick styles for teens, 1927. Patterns 1362 and 1388.

Descriptions of Butterick 1362 and 1388.

Details of Butterick’s “tomboy suit,” pattern 1344, and a surplice dress, 1366. Delineator, April 1927.

Descriptions of Butterick patterns 1344 and 1366.

“Size 19 years ” had a 38 inch bust. Size 15 years was proportionately smaller. For more about 1920’s pattern sizing click here.



Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Hats, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

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.


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.



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