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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