Spotlight on Black Designers: Stephen Burrows
Designer Stephen Burrows, four models, and journalist André Leon Talley.Stephen Burrows was born in 1943 in Newark, NJ. Fashion had always been in the substrata of the designer’s early life; both his parents were sample makers for Hattie Carnegie and his grandmother, Beatrice Simmons, had taught him to sew at an early age. But fashion wasn’t his first choice.
Spotlight on Black Designers: Tracy Reese
Fashion illustrations by Tracy Reese. From a photograph by Sarah Rice for The New York Times from the June 25, 2022 article “A Detroit Designer Works From Home” by Gina Cherelus.When designer Tracy Reese was growing up in Detroit she helped her mother sew clothes for her dolls using only old socks for the material. But even so, she hadn’t intended on a career in fashion design; originally, she thought she might want to pursue a career as an architect or an interior designer.
Spotlight on Black Designers: Kevan Hall
Designer Kevan Hall, iconiclife.com, September 30, 2020.When couture designer Kevan Hall was a kid growing up in Detroit admiring the style of entertainers like the Supremes and Sonny and Cher on television, he didn’t know the sketches he drew of the clothing he thought the entertainers should be wearing could be a real job. All he knew was he liked drawing, and he thought he could style their wardrobes better. Luckily for Hall, his parents didn’t deter him; instead, they kept him furnished with art supplies and encouraged him to keep doing the thing he loved to do.
The Martini Murder
Exercise Yard at the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Exact Date Unknown. LIbrary of Congress.For Joseph R. and Camille (Della Sala) Failla and their two children - eleven-year-old Joseph Jr. and ten-year-old Camille Susan - Christmas 1949 promised to be wonderful. The Faillas had been married since 1934, and in the fifteen years since their marriage, Joseph’s prospects had risen consistently. Joseph, a garment cutter by trade, had taken a position in 1937 as a production manager at Martini Frocks.
The Tailor Chase: Gustav Stern
Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 1900.A “Tailor Chase,” you ask? Not a “Dressmaker Chase”? Indeed! In a first for us here at Fashion Conservatory, we have a Chase subject who wasn’t a woman, and who wasn’t even a dressmaker until the end stage of his career. But who are we if not boundary pushers, so let’s do this….because I can guarantee you’ll find this fellow interesting.Gustav Stern's Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977.This gentleman wasn’t a woman, no, but he was an immigrant. Gustav Wilhelm Stern was born in Strasburg, Germany on 1 June 1850.
The Dressmaker Chase: Charlotte Makowski
Fashionable ladies with a Chrysler coupe, circa 1920s. From Gamma-Keystone via Getty ImagesIf you’ve been reading Fashion Conservatory's Gazette, you know that when it comes to seeking out the stories behind unknown dressmakers of eras past, we have a real penchant for the chase. To us it doesn’t matter whether they lifted their needle because they had to in order to survive, or because they had a passion for creating beautiful garments for the ladies who lived in the places they lived. All of these invisible women deserve to have their efforts unearthed and made visible again.
The Haute Couture Dolls of The French Recognition Train
The freighter Magellan arrives outside New York City on February 2, 1949.An obscure collection of haute couture dolls handmade as a gift from France to the United States soon after the end of World War II has been kept hidden away for decades in a New York City museum. The fact these dolls exist at all is a well-kept secret known by few, even among those who adore fashion. What’s more, the accuracy of what is known or believed to be known about them has been called into question.
You've Got A Keyloun? - Here's How To Tell Them Apart
Detail of quilted fabric from a Keyloun long sleeved maxi dress - circa 1970s, Fashion Conservatory's Label Archive.So you know your garment is a Keyloun – because it says so, right there on the label (and by the way, it's pronounced KAY-loon!) But hold up. Before you attribute it, pause a moment and ask yourself….which one? It’s a question worth your time. There’s been quite a bit of confusion in the vintage fashion community when it comes to sorting out Keyloun labels. First, there’s just Keyloun. But then there’s Keyloun Fifth Avenue New York.
"Princess Radium", Kickaway, and the Rise (and Fall) of Radium Silk
Label from a 1920s Princess Radium Step-in Teddy.The company which became well-known women’s lingerie manufacturer Kickaway had its beginnings rooted in a deadly craze.In 1923, two entrepreneur businessmen from Chicago, Robert and Frank S. Gershenow, decided to capitalize on the popularity of a marvelous metal called radium. At the time, radium - a highly radioactive metal whose isotopes were finally isolated by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898 - had been touted as a cure-all for….well, just about everything.
The Most Beautiful Woman of the Century; Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, Part II
Chinese Woman and Marquise, 1861-1867. By Pierre-Louis Pierson, albumen silver print from glass negative.In what became the introduction to their First Period (1856-1857) of work, Pierre-Louis Pierson photographed the Countess of Castiglione at his Mayer & Pierson studio in July of 1856. The photograph, titled “Portrait in a Black Dress,” is commonly assumed to be the first Pierson took of Castiglione. This one-time session would first evolve into a project, and then blossom into an association spanning many decades of creative achievement.