Friday, September 21, 2012
Fern Violette: California Designer
This dress was designed by Fern Johnson Violette. She was born in 1920 in Montana, and grew up on a farm. At age 19, she married Ed Violette and had soon had a daughter. In her early 20’s they moved to Southern California to work in the aircraft factories during WWII.
After the war, Fern worked for a Los Angeles apparel manufacturer. While there she found that she was a natural for the fashion business. This inspired Fern to open her own company, under the “Fern Violette” label. She produced high-end women’s fashions from a location at 48 Market Street in Venice, California.
Later in her career, she hired Jay Morley, Jr. (1981 – 1997) to design for her. He is credited with his name on the label. Jay was the son of a well known actor from the early movie era and worked in the movie business as well. He had a prolific career from 1949 to 1957 as a low budget film costume designer, and is often given screen credit for his gowns. He was known to produce fashions that were more dramatic that Fern’s own earlier signature style.
Fern’s fashions are said to have been worn by Jackie Kennedy, among others. Her line was sold at Bloomingdale’s, Sak’s Fifth Ave, and the Los Angeles luxury store: Bullock’s Wilshire. She designed until the mid-1970’s when she retired with her husband and moved back to Montana where she lived until she passed away in 2010.
This "Fern Violette" design is a cotton two-piece dress, probably from the mid 1950's. It features a rolled collar with a "V" back.