Monday, April 23, 2012

Alper Schwartz: Vintage Fashion Label


This silk duopuoni dress by "Alper Schwartz" is from the 1960's. The dress has exceptional details for a mass produced garment of that era. On close inspection, details emerge that contribute to the quality of this design.

Overall, it has an ultra-clean look, very monochromatic and smooth. This effect is enhanced by the soft champagne color.  To create a sense of simplicity, the pattern design uses a bias cut bodice where the fabric is cut on the diagonal. French darts taper the midriff and reduce bulk in the torso. The bias cut top would provide a slight stretch to fit, making extra darts unnecessary.


In keeping with the monochromatic look, the belt is self covered, reducing contrast and softening the line. The shoulders are smooth, using a type of kimono sleeve design to create an unbroken line in the bodice. Underarm gussets provide a good fit to the arm.
Overall, this dress is elegant, subtle and speaks of quality in design and construction.

In trying to find out more about the "Alper Schwartz" label, several bits of information were found, but I could find nothing on who designed this label, or how long it was produced.

My earliest sighting is in 1955, with an adorable navy silk dress with white linen collar. The fit and flare silhouette is created with a wide gored skirt, held out by petticoats so typical of that time. The bodice is fitted, with 3/4 length sleeves. This dress appears in an article promoting a local fashion show, where the dress is sold in the college girls boutique of the major department store in that town. This article lets us know that during the 50's, the "Alper Schwartz" label was sold in the upper tier regional department stores to junior customers who wanted current fashion styles.  A later dress from the 1950's is priced at $50.

This advertisement from 1963, for Joseph Horne of Pittsburgh, shows a very fashionable layout and illustration style that features one large coat dress, with two smaller. The coat dress is priced at $110, and the dresses are $90 each. This ad also lists Jack Feinstein as the company representative who was scheduled to hold a trunk show at the department store.  During this same time period, a label with "Tony Ruocco for Alber Schwartz" can be found, but this name does not appear with any other design position.

This fashion illustration from Fall, 1978 shows a navy wool knit dress with coat ensemble that sold for $260.  The design style reflected the current trend towards a slender silhouette.  This simple look suggests an affluent customer who wanted a subtle fashion statement.


By 1983, the "Alper Schwartz" line is shown in the same niche as Halston, Bill Blass, St. John Knits, Geoffrey Beene, Albert Nipon, Joan Leslie, and Adele Simpson. This would put that label in the higher priced ready-to-wear category, where quality and style are important to the customer. A 1985 advertisement shows a wool crepe jacket dress ensemble for $340. This certainly gives a good indication that the label offered fashion garments to a conservative customer who wanted quality workmanship and design.

The Alper-Schwartz company was manufacturing fashion by the early 1950's in Philadelphia. Owned by Samuel Alper it was later sold to Bernard Schwartz in 1956. Samuel Alper was a known Philadelphia dress manufacturer by the early 1940's. There isn't a record of his designers, beyond the "Tony Ruocco" name that appears on some labels during the 1960's.

The gorgeous champagne silk duopuoni dress from the 1960's shown in the title here is available through our shop on PintuckStyle on Etsy.

3 comments:

Second Hand Rose said...

Like you I don't know much about Alper Schwartz, but I'm keen to learn more now. Such great photos and a gorgeous dress! Amazing! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.co.uk/

Lizzie - The Vintage Traveler said...

Thanks so much for that history lesson. It never ceases to amaze me just how many exceptional designers there were in the 20th century that we seem to have forgotten.

And what a super dress!

Jen O said...

Lizzie: If you need a better shot of that label for the vintage library, let me know--this brand certainly needs to be represented there too!

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