Omigosh! I almost missed Printzess Week! A “Nation-Wide Fashion Event” October 8th to 13th — 1917.
I can’t help liking a company that proudly proclaims itself “The Printz-Biederman Company: Paris CLEVELAND New York.”
“The Fascination of French Fashions”
This ad doesn’t give prices, but the Printz-Biederman Company was very successful, with sales of $6.44 million in 1922. You can find a brief company history at The Encyclopedia of Cleveland: click here.
In this advertisement from 1917, the company brags about its ability to copy Paris Fashions:
“The secret of style supremacy enjoyed by the French fashion designers lies in their ability to originate beauty of line and grace of fold and to combine them in a finished garment — which is invariably becoming to the wearer.
“Printzess garments are faithful reproductions of original creations by the great French designers — which the world of fashion has adopted as authentic.
“Thousands of women have learned to accept the name Printzess as an assurance of style and a guarantee of quality, materials and perfect tailoring.
“There is a Printzess dealer in your city — be sure you see his stock of Printzess suits and coats before making your selection for Fall. Ask the Printzess dealer in your city to send you the beautiful Printzess Art Portfolio containing Rotogravure reproductions of the last word from Paris in coat and suit styles.”
“This beautiful coat, Printzess No. 521 is one of the season’s most striking models. It is box pleated from the deep yoke, a fashion to be much in evidence this season. The large, convertible collar is of Kerami Mole, and the cleverly designed pouch pockets, hanging gracefully beneath the broad encircling belt, are mole trimmed. The material is an all wool Kersey coating of exquisitely soft texture, half-lined with an excellent quality of peau-de-cygne. Colors are: Black, Navy, Green, Brown and Burgundy.”
“Printzess suit No. 601 is made of Rib Rodier cloth. A delightfully youthful effect is conveyed by the plaits which extend downward from the belt in the back of the jacket. When worn open, the ample collar drapes gracefully over the shoulders, terminating in tapering points, and is embellished with a curving band of velvet. The cut-in pockets and belt effect are very chic, and the coat is beautifully lined with Persian. The skirt is an excellent example of the straight line silhouette, and has two cut-in pockets. This stunning suit comes in Pekin, Mouse, Taupe, Havana, Russian, Seal, Navy and Black.”
This is proof that making up non-descriptive names for fashion colors is not a new practice. “Havana” is presumably a shade of tobacco brown; perhaps the comma in “Russian, Seal” is a mistake? Valspar paint still has a color called Pekin; it’s a dusty pink-ish beige. These hats are worth a closer look.
Coat No. 521 looks incredibly fattening, with all those bulky pleats, huge hip pockets, and a thick belt around the waist. (No, it’s not a maternity fashion.) The popular styles of the 1910s can be very unflattering by current standards. It’s hard to believe that chic women ever wanted to buy a dress with a “barrel skirt,” but in 1917-1918, they did.
The Printzess line was still being made in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In 1954, Printzess employed over 1000 workers, mostly in Cleveland, and had annual sales of $8 million. There are images of several later Printzess suits online, and a Printzess label. The business closed in 1978.