On July 7, 1941, a ceremony and fashion show was held on the steps of City Hall showcasing 25 of New York’s “prettiest needleworkers” sewing inaugural “New York Creation” labels on 25 award-winning garments. The young women threaded gold needles and pressed their feet on the pedals, marking the first of what would be hundreds, if not thousands, of promotional campaigns encouraging shoppers to wear clothes “Made in the U.S.A.”
These were the World War II years, a rocky time for international fashion. For decades any fashionista worth her Worth knew that Europe, particularly Paris, was “the only place for mode,” as the saying went at the time. But Europe was under siege, and many design houses were struggling to stay afloat. Gabrielle Coco Chanel, deep in an affair with a German officer and working as a spy for the Nazis, closed her fashion house in 1939, saying that wartime was not the time for fashion. Mandatory fabric rations swept across the continent, making it impossible Read More »
Twenty-three-year-old model Beverly Valdes needed a job. Her race had limited her to “Negro fashion shows,” and two major houses had recently told her that she was too small and too tall. As they say, the third time’s the charm: Valdes answered an advertisement placed a month earlier by French-born designer Pauline Trigère, and beat out 40 other hopefuls to represent Trigère’s clothing on Seventh Avenue. According to the New York Times article that broke the news on June 23, 1961, the designer picked Valdes simply because she possessed “a long waist, good shoulders and a good neck.” As for those customers who would not want to buy a dress worn by a black women, Trigère later told the Times, “We only lost one customer in Birmingham, Alabama. We didn’t miss her.” Read More »
Born on June 9:
Max Raab, American clothier and filmmaker; 1926
Ossie Clark, British designer; 1942
Johnny Depp, American actor and style icon; 1963
Cameron Bunce, American model; 1981
Happy day to all June niners! Why, I ask you, would you be a one-trick pony, when you could be a multiple-trick pony? Like Max Raab, born in 1926, you have the unique ability to reinvent yourself. Max started off working for his father’s men’s clothing store, but soon turned his focus to women’s wear, and by the early 1960s The New York Times was calling him the “dean of the prep look.” Still unsatisfied, Max got involved with producing and directing movies (he was an executive producer on A Clockwork Orange). In the next year, I want you to take a page out of Max’s book and feel free to excel in more than one area. What if you’re not excelling in even one area yet? Well, then you’re going to have a very busy 12 months. Better get to it!
Photo: Max Raab, photographer unknown
On June 3, 1900, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union was founded.
If you were a teenage immigrant in New York in the early 1900s, you might have worked in a dress shop. And if you worked in a dress shop, you would have worked nine-hour days, Read More »