Sunday, September 17, 2017

1950's Patio Dress: Close up


This patio dress from the 1950's is a classic type. It features the signature tiered skirt in tiny pleats lined with rows of silver and turquoise rickrack and woven trim, called a 'broomstick' style. The top is a separate blouse, 3/4 length kimono sleeves, and decorated with a mock-necklace "V" silver rickrack and woven trim.  This has a typical turn-up collar with "V" open neckline.



These dresses were very popular for casual wear during the post WWII years. At that time, there was a strong interest in ethnic inspired fashions with a casual style. Soft, loose and comfortable looks were created by many Arizona and California regional designers to wear as hostess dresses and for special occasions. This tiered skirt played perfectly with the crinoline "New Look" silhouette of that era. Although many women wore the skirt without a petticoat, it could be worn quite full. Later this style would merge with square dance dresses to create that extra circle skirt fullness.



This department store advertisement from Phoenix, Arizona shows a similar patio dress look with the "V" emphasis on the bodice.  Many of these were designed and produced by Hispanic designer Dolores Gonzales and her brother in Tucson, Arizona.  They created a local industry with a huge demand.  She is often credited with launching this south/west garment, made to worn for special occasions and fiestas locally, becoming emblematic for the region, and adopted by tourists who saw them and wanted their own.



A cotton set by Alex Coleman, California designer, was part of a 1951 collection that emphasized native american influences in the outfit. It shows a tiered gathered fiesta skirt that has a color shift with each ruffle from a darker bottom to a lighter top. The top is embellished with appliques.

The terms used to describe this dress often include the use of the word "Squaw". For a look into this topic, as well as the history of this dress as it was originally founded by Dolores Gonzales in Tucson, Arizona, you will want to refer to "The Squaw Dress: Tucson's controversial but unique fashion history" with comments from Dr. Nancy Parezo of the University of Arizona, professor of American Indian studies and anthropology.


Dress shown is currently available online at Pintuck Style.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Early 60's Fabric & Fashion: American Fabrics Magazine, 1961: Creslan, Vycon, Zantrel, Syl-mer


American Fabrics magazine has a wealth of information on fabrics and fashions from the era. This 1961 publication says alot about the 1960's. At the top of the list would be the increased use of synthetic fibers and finishes to create better performing, color retention and easy care apparel.


Fashion designers such a Pauline Trigere, available at Lord and Taylor, were used to illustrate a fabric by Coosa that boasted bright colors.


Featured within an editorial, this cotton and dacron blended gingham plaid by Galey & Lord, features costumes worn on Broadway in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". This trend would influence cotton day dresses, blouses and men's shirt plaids.


This is a color forecast for Fall, 1962 presented by the Franklin Process textile company. It boasts "business stimulating colors and color combinations for fashion minded designers in the men's, women's and children's fields. It was here that the fashion industry could locate the latest developments in color.

More than forecasts, this publication also presented industry innovations and brand developments. Fiber and finishes were being brought into the market at a fast pace, so keeping up with the newest textile trend was important. Unlike our current textile and fiber scene, these were processes that were bridging the gap between all natural fibers and the new age of synthetics.


Creslan was an acrylic fiber with bulk, whose advantages were the ability to be brightly colored, and warm although light weight. It was often used in blends. Acrylics were most often used to imitate wools without the higher cost of natural fibers, along with the ability to easily wash and dry.


Vycon was a unique polyester developed by Goodyear. In general is was used used in blends to make the fabric colorfast and bright, sturdy, wrinkle proof and washable. This pages shows most blends with cotton, however rayon is also used.


Syl-mer was a fiber finish developed to create softer synthetic fibers and make them resemble natural fibers in shine and texture. The diversity of fabrics that could be treated is shown here: from pile weaves to flat nylons, as well as an Aplaca made waterproof.


Zantrel is a rayon fiber, woven most often in blends. Here it is blended with polyesters, nylon, and acrylics. This was often used to imitate a cotton fiber, but with a more consistent manufactured strand (rather than the short natural cotton fiber strand).


Creslan acrylic fibers are shown here to create soft pile weaves without traditional wool fibers. The coat is lined in a washable light fleece, and the blue blanket is soft on both sides of this fabric.

American Fabrics helps us to see past textile and fashion trends, innovations and products used in all industries that require textiles, including home decor, automotive, and other industries.  It also has information useful in dating and describing vintage apparel that most collectors and historicans should be familiar with.

I currently have this edition listed for sale in my Etsy shop, it is one of several offered that contain a wealth of information.

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