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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Branding in the Collection

Discussions of fashion and the fashion industry today are often dominated by discussion of brands.  While some houses are still headed by their eponymous designers, the originators of many brands, including Chanel, Lanvin, and Versace, have been dead for decades.  Even so, garments with those names attached still have considerable cache. 

Those of us used to garments from the modern era are accustomed to having brand signifiers, primarily sewn labels, on our cloths.  We use them as an indicator of quality, price, and stylishness when shopping.  At the Goldstein we store most garments made after the 1940s by brand.  Earlier garments are stored by date.  One of the reasons for this is that most of our older garments don’t have any label in them at all.  When present, with few exceptions, they can be found printed on a ribbon at the waist of the garment.  This ribbon is not just decorative.  Called a “waist stay,” its purpose is to keep the bodice in place. 

 Left: c1895 dress, 1981.065.017a-b.  Gift of the Fashion Institute of Technology. Right: Detail of label on the waist stay of the bodice.

Today most garments have the designer or company logo at the back neck or in the side seam.  The three garments below were designed by Oscar de la Renta, however they have different logos on their tags.   

 Three garments by Oscar de la Renta.  Left: C1970 dress, 1983.059.014a-b. Gift of Barbara Flanagan Sanford.  Middle: C1990 jacket, 2007.008.033. Gift of Elizabeth G. Weymouth.  Right: 2006 dress, 2014.031.012.  Gift of Elizabeth (Lolly) Weymouth. 

 Interior detail of three garments by Oscar de la Renta.  Left: C1970 dress, 1983.059.014a-b. Gift of Barbara Flanagan Sanford.  Middle: C1990 jacket, 2007.008.033. Gift of Elizabeth G. Weymouth.  Right: 2006 dress, 2014.031.012.  Gift of Elizabeth (Lolly) Weymouth.

The tag on the c1970 dress uses a formal serif font, which is quite different from the naturalistic style of the signature used in the later garments.  Some of this stylistic change can be attributed to the fact that the first garment is from the “boutique” brand, not the main namesake collection.  However, while the c1990 and 2006 versions are similar, they aren’t identical.  The later version has the bottom edges of all the letters aligned along the same horizontal plane and reduces the amount of white space surrounding the text.  The shape of individual letters had also been tweaked slightly.  The difference is most apparent if you look at the “O” and “R” that have been capitalized.  

1992 two piece Moschino suit, 1997.008.001a-b.  Gift of Shari L. Applebaum.

This Moschino skirt suit takes the idea of branding ever further.  The middle image above shows the back lining of the jacket.  In addition to a small label near the neck, the lining has been custom printed with the brand's tag line “Cheap & Chic” and the collection number.  While this makes a big impact, this branding is still only visible on the inside. 

C1995 Vivienne Westwood suit, 2003.081.001a-b. Museum purchase.

Brand signifiers show up on the outside of garments in several ways.  Hardware and notions are popular ways to display logos.  The Vivienne Westwood outfit above has the designer’s logo stamped onto buttons.  The Bogner ski suit below uses the large center front buckle to show off the brands logo.  Both of these examples are interesting in that they are subtle enough that only those who are looking would notice the branding. 

 C. 1990 Bogner ski suit, 2008.032.004a-b. Gift of Delores Defore.

Another example of subtle branding can be seen in the Pucci ensemble below.  The designer was well known for brightly colored prints.  To show that this is an original, and not just an imitation, the designer's signature is hidden within the print.  This identifies the outfit as the real deal, not an imitation, but only if you are looking very closely. 

1967 Emilio Pucci ensemble, 1980.098.112a-b. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Miles (Shirley) Fiterman.

Less subtle is the well known Louis Vuitton logo print.  While people have many different opinions regarding this pattern and brand, it certainly isn’t subtle about its origins.  Carrying a bag like this, one can’t help but be associated with the company that made it, for better or for worse.   

C1995 Louis Vuitton purse, 1998.060.010.  Gift of Margot Siegel.

If you’d like to make a statement to the world that you support the Goldstein Museum of Design, consider buying one of our t-shirts.  Purchases can be made in Gallery 241 or at (612)624-7434.  

Through December 30th, buy 2 t-shirts for just $20 ($30 value).  Available in S-M-L-XL sizes, single shirts are $12 (S-M-L-XL) & $13 (XXL) for GMD members who show a member card and U of M students, staff and faculty who show ID.  XXL shirts are $16.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holiday Dishes

With the holiday season in full swing, many of you are taking out your good china.  With its organic shapes and whimsical pattern, this 1954 set from Metlox is one of my favorites in our collection. 

1954 2005.059.001a-I Metlox Stoneware Set, Gift of Bobbi Van Rossum 

Designed by Frank Irwin, this stoneware set would have been sturdy enough for everyday use, but at the same time wouldn’t be out of place on a festive table1.  Indeed, many pieces are similar in shape and style to the dishes used to display an autumn feast in the below spread from the Ladies Home Journal2

Ladies Home Journal, October 1954 

Chatelaine magazine suggested that, while many still preferred to have both a fine china and an earthenware set, many women were choosing to use earthenware exclusively3.  These modern women may have gotten their stoneware as a wedding present, as suggested by the Chicago Daily Tribune4, received a set as a holiday gift, or bought it themselves.  If you happened to be shopping in Los Angeles in December of 1957, it would have been possible to score a set for 20% off5

Loss Angeles Times, December 2nd 1957 

This particular set was used by its original owners for large family dinners in the 1950s and 60s.  The second set of owners used it at gatherings of a musical group they belonged to.  However it was used, I’m sure the cheerful colors and space age shapes made for an exciting table setting! 

1954 2005.059.001a-I Metlox Stoneware Set (detail),  Gift of Bobbi Van Rossum

  1. Kaplan, W. (2011). California design, 1930-1965: Living in a modern way. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
  2. Ladies Home Journal. (1954, 11). Ladies' Home Journal, 71, 3. Retrieved from pg22 
  3. Holmes, M., & Byers, J. (1954, 06). GET SET FOR DINING THE MODERN WAY. Chatelaine, 27, 40-42, 44-45. Retrieved from
  4. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Jun 3, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune pg. SW_A1
  5. Display ad 13 -- no title. (1957, Dec 02). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three Labels, One Designer?

A look at Karl Lagerfeld through three pieces from the Goldstein’s collection.

When we talk about clothing designers, often what we are really talking about is brand.  Fashion insiders may gossip about who is in and who is out, but most people outside the industry rarely pay much attention to, what Harper’s Bazaar has called, the “never-ending game of designer musical chairs” (Fisher, 2016).  

Red Chanel coat from fall 1994 collection. Gift of Margot Siegel 2001.082.009 (left) Chloe Spring 1995 collection. Gift of Mary Wangsness 2009.041.008a-b (center), Pink Karl Lagerfeld suit. Gift of Ann Kemske c1990 2009.023.002a-b (right) 2. Chloe Spring 1995 collection. Gift of Mary Wangsne 

Some designers take up more metaphorical chairs than others.  Perhaps the best example of this is Karl Lagerfeld.  He’s been working for Fendi since 1965 and Chanel since 1983 (Picardi, 2016).  He started his own eponymous line while still working for both houses, was the creative director of Chloe from 1992-1997, and has designed costumes for both film and theater (Major, 2010).  In our collection at the Goldstein, we are lucky enough to have three pieces from the early 1990s that give us a sense of Lagerfeld’s work across brands.  

Chloe Spring 1995 collection. Gift of Mary Wangsness 2009.041.008a-b 

This sophisticated jacket and slip dress ensemble come from Lagerfeld’s Spring 1995 collection for Chloe.  The body conscious silhouette and feminine details are well representative of the rest of that collection. 

Chloe spring 2015 fashion show.  Our suit appears near the 5:48 mark 

Created one season earlier at Chanel, this oversized bright red coat is designed for a woman with a different lifestyle. 

Red Chanel coat from fall 1994 collection. Gift of Margot Siegel 2001.082.00

The fall 1995 Chanel fashion show is full of bright colors, baggy garments, and quirky accessories.  Our coat is worn over a black turtle neck with thigh high boots, a large red hat, and a yellow clutch purse.  

Chanel fall 1994 fashion show. Our red coat appears near the 1:30 mark 

These two aesthetics appear to come together in this c1990 pink silk Karl Lagerfeld Bergdorf Goodman suit. 

Pink Karl Lagerfeld suit. Gift of Ann Kemske c1990 2009.023.002a-b 

This suit combines the sophistication of the Chloe suit and the fun of the Chanel coat. However, it’s hard to know how involved Lagerfeld was with the design of this specific garment.  According to Patrick Mauriès, who wrote the introduction to the gorgeous visual retrospective Chanel Catwalk, Lagerfeld was largely a figurehead at his eponymous line in the 1990s (2016, p. 14).

While all three examples may not have been directly designed by Lagerfeld, they do serve to remind us of something important:  The brand name on the label doesn’t tell the whole story of how a garment was designed and made.

Fisher, L. A. (2016, August 2). Calvin Klein Confirms Raf Simons's Hire. Harper's Bazaar. Retrieved September 12, 2016, from
Major, J.S. (2010). Lagerfeld, Karl. In V. Steele (Ed.). The Berg Companion to Fashion. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved September 20 2016, from
Mauriès, P. (2016). Chanel Catwalk: The Complete Karl Lagerfeld Collections. London: Thames&Hudson.
Picardie, J. (2016, September 10). 'A client will buy 20 dresses in five minutes': Karl Lagerfeld on the rise of the new couture client. The Telegraph. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Inspiration from the Collections

With Halloween rapidly approaching, the Goldstein Collection is a great place to look for inspiration.  After all, part of the fun of this time of year is that, for one day at least, outlandish and dramatic clothing is socially acceptable.  The late 19th century was a time of dramatic silhouettes, many of which make for a great starting point for a spectacular costume design. 

    C1865 1964.009.003a-c Gift Julie of Titcomb

 In the 1860’s large skirts, such as those on this c1865 silk dress (above) were supported by layers of petticoats and metal hoops.

         Cartoon “The Extremely Reprehensible Conduct of Those Two Podgkinsons, As They Walked To      Church With Their Papa, Mamma, And Sisters Last Sunday,” 1957

As you can imagine, this look was not always taken seriously in the press.  The 1857 cartoon above was meant to poke fun at this dramatic style of skirt, but it also shows a creative way to play with this silhouette.  

    C1880 1981.003.005 Gift of Natalie Gallagher 

Later in the century, skirt fullness was moved to the back, as in this c1880 satin ensemble with bustle skirt (above). As the bustle fell out of fashion, skirts slimmed down considerably at the end of the 19th century, while at the same time sleeves grew significantly.  Known as Leg-o-Mutton sleeves, their dramatic shape was sometimes supported by a small cage.

          C1895 1990.036.001a-c Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Lindsay

These styles also, as you might suspect, were not taken seriously by the media.  The satirical magazine Punch showed the bustle reinterpreted as a snail shell in this 1870 cartoon (below).  The sleeves in this 1895 cartoon are re-imagined as tennis rackets, ores, etc. While meant as a jokes, these would be fantastic costumes. 

 Two cartoons from Punch.  Left “Thoughts of Great Men,” 1870.  Right “Suggestions for Novelties    in Sleeves”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Choosing Fabric

Designers make many decisions. The dresses on display highlight one key choice - fabric.

Printed textiles have been around for centuries, with various methods used in different cultures and at different times. In 1783 Thomas Bell patented his roller-printing process, dramatically impacting textiles in the West by making printed dress fabrics more affordable. The monochromatic, repeated print of the red dress below hearkens back to these roller-printed fabrics. However, its subject matter is decidedly different.

 Cotton shirt dress, 1961-1666, gift of Betty Cowie

The use of novelty prints in apparel began during the 20th century and was particularly popular during the 1950s and 60s. These figural prints featured everything from people or animals to household appliances or tourist destinations. In line with this trend, the red dress features two men dueling as a young woman anxiously watches in the background. It and the yellow dress below are the work of The Vested Gentress

Cotton dress with belt, 1965-1969, gift of Sybil Roberts Seay

Fritz “Bud” and Naomi Jackson started the company in 1961. They became known for whimsical, screen printed garments. Bud created all of the early prints, although other artists were later added to create mostly floral designs. Bud particularly loved to draw animals - seen in the yellow dress, which features dogs sniffing flowers. These quirky prints capture the noted mid-20th century trend. They also remind us that design and dress can be fun!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Influences on Western Fashion – Japanese Designers

The 1970s was a decade of cultural change – marked by everything from Watergate to Star Wars. In the fashion world, hallmarks include the rise of Japanese designers. Western fashion had appropriated some elements of Eastern culture. However, until the 1970s designers from these cultures were largely unknown in Europe and America. Early pioneers took different paths into the French fashion system.

“The European Ready-to-Wear Scene” in Vogue (Aug 15, 1971, p. 65) – Kenzo is prominently featured on the second page of the fashion spread.

Kenzo (Kenzo Takada) moved to Paris in 1964 and worked for a number of established French designers. He opened his own boutique in 1970 and was in American Vogue (above) within a year. Many of his early designs incorporate elements of traditional Japanese clothing. The bodice of the dress below takes inspiration from the kimono. He is also known for his bold prints, seen in the all-over-floral pattern of the ensemble below.


 Ensembles by Kenzo – Cotton dress, 1970-1977, Gift of Virginia Carlson (above); 
Wool and silk ensemble, 1983-1989, Gift of Masami Suga (below)


Issey Miyake began as an assistant designer for fashion houses like Givenchy. In 1970, He established his own studio in Tokyo before showing his collection in Paris in 1973. The heat-set, horizontal pleats on both the dress and jacket below have since become a signature of Issey Miyake - one of many examples of the designer's high level of experimentation. 


Pleated garments by Issey Miyake – Silk dress, 1990-2004, Gift of Kay Opitz (above); 
Polyester coat, 1994-1995, Gift of Dayton Hudson Department Stores (below)

Despite different routes to prominence, the work of these and other Japanese designers all influenced the fashion industry. The 1975 “fashion observation” below indicates the impact the Japanese designers quickly had on fashion houses like Dior, Valentino, and Saint Laurent. Kenzo utilized symbols that were common in Japan but appeared new to Western audiences.  Others like Miyake introduced more avant-garde designs, which also contributed to changing perceptions of fashion and clothes in Western culture. 

“Vogue Observations: Chinoiserie '75” in Vogue (Jul 1, 1975, p. 40) – Issey Miyake is featured in the upper left and Kenzo across the bottom.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Ready-to-Wear Revolution

“Ready-to-wear is not, as far as I am concerned, a lesser genre, a sort of sub-haute couture; it’s the future.”
Yves Saint Laurent in French Elle (October 26, 1967)

Yves Saint Laurent began as Christian Dior’s protégé but later firmly establish his own place in fashion history. After leaving Dior, the Algerian-born French designer opened his own couture house in 1962. However, this too was only part of his long career. He went on to play a crucial role in one of the most notable revolutions in the haute couture world: the rise of prêt-à-porter (or ready-to-wear) fashion lines. 


30, avenue Montaigne - the “birthplace” of the House of Dior (left) and Saint Laurent in front of Rive Gauche (right)

On September 26, 1966, Yves Saint Laurent opened his first ready-to-wear shop: Rive Gauche. This literally translates to “left bank” and refers to the location of the store along the Seine. The aptly chosen name both literally and metaphorically positioned Rive Gauche opposite of the haute couture shops on the other side of the Parisian river. Note the very different facades of the two buildings above. The front Rive Gauche almost merges with the sidewalk, inviting anyone passing by to enter. 

     Double-knit pantsuit, 1968-1969, gift of Shirley Fiterman 


Cotton floral jacket and hot pants, 1966-1975, Gift of Ann Ferris

The designer sought to dress all women, not only those who could afford his couture creations.  While Rive Gauche garments were by no means inexpensive, they cost considerably less. A 1971 article in French ELLE features a comparison of Saint Laurent’s designs. A haute couture shirt dress costs 5,500 F, but the strikingly similar Rive Gauche version could be purchased for only 650 F - just over one-tenth the price.

    Velvet and feather pantsuit with sheer blouse, 1966-1969, gift of Shirley Fiterman 

    Wool blouse and skirt, 1966-1975, gift of Aileen Grossman 

For Saint Laurent, Rive Gauche offered him freedom from the strictures of couture. The line became a way for the designer to explore and experiment. The ready-to-wear shops offered a wide range of styles, which allowed women to create their own wardrobes.  This approach to fashion is firmly entrenched in the broader cultural shifts towards autonomy and individuality during the 1960s and 70s.