Hispanic Heritage Month Designer Highlight 2021: Isabel Toledo

Isabel Toledo portrait

Portrait of Isabel Toledo

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month being September 15th-October 15th, we wish to highlight Isabel Toledo, a Cuban-American designer who we’ve featured a dress from in our exhibit this year. Isabel Toledo was born Maria Isabel Izquierdo in Cuba in 1960. She immigrated to West New York, New Jersey as a young teenager, where she met her eventual husband, Ruben Toledo, at 14. The designer began her fashion studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design. In 1979, she interned at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and started her career without graduating. Toledo introduced her first collection in 1985 which was picked up quickly by Barney’s New York and other international stores, proving to be the start of a very successful career following that. She was said to be a humble designer who rejected the mainstream by her peers and friends, preferring to live amongst artists and creatives and maintain a low celebrity profile. Her friend Ikram Goldman described her as “an uncorrupted designer” who “never conformed to or accepted the ‘fashion system’.”

Black Isabel Toledo dress in our Fashion and Music Exhibit

Black Isabel Toledo dress featured in our Fashion and Music exhibit this year.

Isabel Toledo had many great achievements throughout her career. One of her most well-known triumphs was creating Michelle Obama’s inaugural look for Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in 2009. She created a light green, shimmering ensemble for the first lady. Additionally, Toledo often appeared on the International Best Dressed Lists, received the Copper Hewitt National Design Award with her husband Ruben Toledo in 2005, was nominated for a Tony for her costumes in “After Midnight” in 2014, was Creative Director of Anne Klein from 2006 to 2007, and designed collections for Lane Bryant. Furthermore, she collaborated with her husband for the Detroit Institute of Art’s Labor of Love installation, and had a solo retrospective of her work in 2009 at the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Celebrity clients included Demi Moore, Debra Messing, and Debi Mazar. Ruben and Isabel Toledo also had high profile friends in the art community such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. With all of that being said, Isabel Toledo was much more than just her awards and celebrity connections. She was a designer who valued diversity, inclusivity of women of all shapes and sizes, and maintained a love and passion for the art and labor behind every garment.  Toledo stated in an interview with Interview Magazine about her collection with Lane Bryant, “My ideal happens to be diversity. I love difference. I love change. I love experimentation and eccentricities.”


Michelle Obama wearing a lemongrass Isabel Toledo ensemble at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration.

Michelle Obama wearing an Isabel Toledo ensemble at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in 2009.

As a minority in America, and a minority in her career, Isabel Toledo is truly a woman who broke down barriers and inspired generations of creatives throughout her 30+ years in the industry. Her position as a Cuban-American woman in the fashion world was important representation for many marginalized groups. She persevered through stereotypes and those who doubted her, and was an excellent example of why diversity must be embraced in all occupations and spaces. Unfortunately, Isabel Toledo passed away from breast cancer in 2019 at the young age of 59. October is also breast cancer awareness month, so commemorating Toledo’s life and achievements also helps bring awareness to the cause. Isabel Toledo is remembered as a fashion genius who focused on empowering women and other creatives, and maintained an individualistic style that stayed true to who she was.










The Color Orange and Fashion

orange tweed skirt suit having jacket with nipped in waist

Dior Tweed suit , 1950s

Today we are focusing on the color orange, it’s origins, and how it made it’s way into the world of fashion. Orange is not always the most common color on the street, as it is vibrant, bright, and brings attention to those wearing it. Common in the fall season, the changing leaves, pumpkins, and modern advertising has ingrained this color into our heads as a cornerstone for the months of October and November. This is how we think of orange in the United States, but in different areas of the world, along with varying religions, orange takes on many meanings.

Use of the unofficially named color began in ancient times when Egyptians would use a yellow-orange mineral called realgar to paint on tomb walls. Highly toxic due to arsenic levels, realgar was also used by the Chinese to repel snakes. Perhaps this is one reasons we view the color orange with such an immediate reaction. It’s backgrounds stem from one of toxic natural minerals and danger, which is suitable for Halloween. Orpiment, another yellow-orange toxic mineral, was used in Ancient Rome as a way of valuable trade. In addition, it was used in Medieval times as a way to allow certain manuscript to be illuminated. Before it was even given a name, the color orange was given an image of value, danger, and vibrancy.

Known as yellow-red and saffron up until the 16th century, the importation of orange fruit trees Asia to Europe pathed the way for this new name. Common in Asian culture and religions, monks and holy men are often seen in this hue, while the color itself is known as a symbol of transformation in Confucianism. Saffron, from which the name stems, is considered the most expensive dye in both China and India. Once again, we are seeing this color given an image of high value, with significant meaning. It is also prevalent in the Buddhist religion. A representation of high illumination and perfection, the color can be used to signify a quest for knowledge, as well as a sign of fertility and abundance when worn by Pomona, the goddess of fruitful abundance.

Chrome orange was the start of synthetic orange pigments. One famous artist, Monet, often used this vibrant hue in nature to capture a sense of excitement and warmth. Today, we see variations in the color. A darker, warmer shade gives a sense of comfort and ease when associated with the fall season. A brighter, more vibrant shade would elicit strong emotions with eye catching capabilities. Popular examples in clothing would be safety vests, life jackets, U.S. prison jumpsuits, and other uniforms. We also see this trend in sports equipment, such as basketballs, ping pong balls, and certain brands of tennis balls. These examples call a need for attention and alertness.

 mannequin wearing sleeveless jump suit of yellow with large orange polka dots; pants have wide legs  long sleeve mini dress printed with black, white, orange, pink, tan and gray abstract motifs


The 1960s was known for its mod culture. Orange was a prevalent color in these times. From furniture and clothing, to automobiles and album covers, this hue reached out its hand. Among every shade, a tangerine orange was most prevalent in the earlier years of the decade, eventually turning into a darker orange for the bohemian style 70s.

Above right is a Courreges orange vinyl coat from c.1965. Andre Courreges was a French dress designer. He was Balenciaga’s first assistant and eventually made his reputation through Parisian Fashion in the 1960s. He was mainly known for his futuristic and youth-oriented style. The jumpsuit with large orange polka dots was designed by Rudi Gernreich, a noted knitwear designer famed for unisex designs. Next is a silk print mini dress by Emilio Pucci, an Italian designer noted for his abstract prints in the late 1960s.



The History of the Color Orange: From Tomb Paintings to Modern-Day Jumpsuits

1960s Dress Styles | Swing, Shift, Mod, Mini Dresses

Hispanic Heritage Month Designer Highlight: Luis Estevez

Luis Estevez explaining something to a colleague.

Luis Estevez


National Hispanic Heritage month is September 15th through October 15th, but any time is a great time to recognize and commemorate the achievements of Hispanic individuals and creatives. To celebrate the month, we will highlight a great Cuban-American 20th century designer, Luis Estevez. Luis Estevez was born around 1930 in Havana, Cuba. Originally with an interest in architecture, he began at the University of Havana but later attended the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City for fashion design. He began his career as a window dresser for a summer job in New York for Lord & Taylor, sparking his interest in fashion and causing his shift from architecture to fashion design. After his studies at the Traphagen School of Fashion, he secured a job in Paris to work for Jean Patou, where he stayed for about 2 years before returning to New York to open his Grenelle-Estevez label with a few colleagues.

1956 through 1959 Luis Estevez gown. Off-white silk dress with large shaded blue flowers and green leaves. Low V back with a full back that is gathered and draped at the center to form a train.

1956-1959 Luis Estevez gown. Off-white silk dress with large shaded blue flowers and green leaves.

Designing under his own name in 1955, Estevez was immediately successful. He received the Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1956, owing his success to his individualistic, uncluttered, feminine, and tasteful clothing that appealed to modern, wealthy women. Estevez was mostly known for his cocktail and evening dresses with interesting necklines, but also became known for his theatrical and theme centered clothing in the 1960s such as his Night and Day collection and his Fly Me to the Moon collection in 1965. With continued success throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, California in 1967  and became established on the West Coast as well. Here he became well known for his flowing, body-conscious designs that often featured his signature cutouts, going more in the direction of sportswear and West Coast inspired dresses. His use of simple fabrics such as cotton, jersey, and silk contributed to a simple yet tasteful California feel. Luis Estevez had an impressive friends list in terms of the fashion community at the time, with Diane von Furstenburg, Bill Blass, and Hubert de Givenchy who was his best man at his wedding. Additionally, his clientele list in California became impressive as well, with Nancy Reagan, Lana Turner, and Eva Gabor who he later designed eveningwear for and eventually launched Luis Estevez International in 1974 with her parent firm.


1950 through 1959 Luis Estevez short green ikat sacque dress.

1950-1959 Luis Estevez short green sacque dress.

Sacque back detail of dress.

Sacque-back detail of dress.

Estevez had many other accomplishments throughout his career. From 1974 to 1977 he dressed First Lady Betty Ford during her husband Gerald Ford’s presidency. Awards he received include the Chicago Gold Coast award, Bambergers Golden Scissor award in 1962, the Tommy award in 1988, and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hispanic Designers Fashion Gala in 1990. His collections were showcased during theater productions of Hello Dolly and Hair, and his gowns have been shown at the Smithsonian Institute and Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the late 20th century Estevez continued designing on a smaller scale with boutiques on Melrose Avenue and later in Montecito. He eventually moved to Miami, Florida and retired in 1997. Luis Estevez died on November 28th, 2014 in Miami. With a long and impressive career, Luis Estevez deserves immense recognition for his accomplishments and impact on fashion in the mid-to-late 1900s and today. Designers today are influenced by Estevez’s work and he paved the way for many Hispanic people and Hispanic-American designers to receive their rightful high status in the fashion world. The fashion world was and is more diverse and accepting because of designers like Luis Estevez.






Sartorial Sleuthing: The Easter Bonnet

We don’t wear hats like we used to in centuries past. Men and women always wore some type of head covering in public until well into the 20th century. Starting in the 1960s, the popularity of wearing hats for both men and women seriously began to wane. Today, for the most part, women wear hats only for special occasions such as church on Sunday, royal weddings or horse races like the Kentucky Derby. So what’s so special about the Easter bonnet?

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal with Mother Nature’s greenery reappearing after a harsh winter and baby animals being born, so spring and its accompanying holiday, Easter, have come to symbolize that rebirth and renewal.

Around the globe, many cultures celebrate periods of renewal such as the turn of a new year or spring time with a long-standing tradition of wearing new clothes. In the 4th century, Christian Roman Emperor Constantine introduced elaborate dress and the display of personal finery in honor of Christ’s resurrection. For the spring holiday of Easter this tradition is mentioned in British literary references dating back to the 16th century.

A new set of clothes always included a new or refurbished hat, at least for women. So while women were wearing new Easter hats or bonnets for a number of decades, the “Easter Bonnet” did not become fixed into our popular culture until Irving Berlin penned the lyrics for his Depression-era 1933 song, Easter Parade:

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”

The song was featured on Broadway and in several films and was finally turned into a movie of the same name starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in 1948. It references New York’s famous Easter parade, which has been a cultural expression of Easter in the United States since the 1880s. What began as the Christian churches lining Fifth Avenue being decorating with spring flowers extended into the ladies of the congregations displaying elaborate articles of fashionable dress. The parade takes place on Easter Sunday on Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets from 10am to 4pm. The parade is open to anyone who wants to participate, including pets, and dressing up by all is definitely encouraged.

Please enjoy our “parade” of Easter bonnets!

The Flapper

Let’s get straight to the point: a flapper was everything that a woman (in general) wasn’t in the 1900’s-1910’s. She was frivolous with spending and spent an excessive amount of time dancing, drinking, smoking, dating, and casual intimacy. Hence the nickname “Roaring Twenties.” But why the sudden change in culture? With the passing of the 19th Amendment, the role women took during WWI as leaders, and a more progressive view, women began to pursue a new idea of what they believed freedom to be.

During the Victorian Era, women were confined with their fashion in a sense. Corsets were still an everyday norm, especially the S-bend corset. It made the hips appear thrown backward and moved the chest forward. Tops were comprised of puff sleeves, and often times fake hair was added to a woman’s head to support the wide brimmed hats worn atop their heads. The length of a woman’s skirt or dress was still to the floor.

It wasn’t until the 1910s that we began to see the hem rise. What’s that I see? Is that an ankle? Yes. In the 1910s, ankle length and hobble skirts became the new fashion. The hobble skirts cinched at the hem of a dress, which made it a little difficult for women to walk sometimes. Overall, the blouses, hats, and wide brimmed hair remained the same, yet the introduction of trousers and work clothing became acceptable. One main reason we most likely began to see this trend was due to the introduction of the world war. With a small percentage of men left in the states, women were called into action to take up duties that men would have normally filled. This includes factory workers, policemen, mailmen, instructors, and weapon producers. The suffragists’ quest to put aside their own desire to vote to help the war effort had a huge impact in the signing of the 19th amendment.

After showing their ability to work as efficiently as men receiving high wage jobs, the passing of the 19th amendment, and the end of the first world war, women found a new found sense of independence. Now enter the era of the flapper. A young, financially equipped, independent woman was on her way to rule the twenties. She cut her hair short – a bobbed haircut. It gave a sense of freedom, and the opposite of what we had seen for the past 20 years. The style of the 20’s is easily recognizable. Unlike the the wide brimmed hats and additions of fake hair for support, women weren’t gaining hair – but losing it. With bobbed hair came bobbed hats. Queue the entrance of the cloche hat – perhaps the most notable style for hats of the decade. It was an absolute icon for the time. The cloche was a tightly fitted hat that was worn to just above the eyebrows, decreasing visibility of a woman’s face. (pictured right)

The lifestyle of a flapper only lasted until 1929 when we saw the stock market crash. Frivolous spending was no longer an option during the Great Depression. Despite the sudden end, the era of the flapper had a huge impact on the decades to come. It was not only a shift in style, but a step forward for what women could accomplish. Their roles in WWI, the right to vote, and financial independence made straight preparation for the second world war.


October Buttons

We are currently in the middle of the great month of October. So what does this mean? Well, a lot of things. October means the start of pumpkin spice everything, fall colors galore, and stores are filled with costumes, candy, and decorations for Halloween, and some are preparing for the start of the Christmas season. Today, we are going to be showing some buttons from our collection that scream October. Get ready to be terrified by spooky spiders, comforted by the falling leaves of autumn, and excited for the Autumn season.

To the right we have an iridescent black luster bat! Have you ever wondered why bats are related to Halloween, though? In the days when “Halloween” began, people would gather and create large bonfires to ward off evil spirits, ghosts, etc. The bonfire attracted insects, which made an excellent source of food for bats. They became associated with the season after their common appearance. Later on, the discovery of vampire bats came into play as well. The notion that they drank blood went right along with the overall creepy vibe that came with the season.

So, make sure to stay away from vampire bats this this October.

Here is another spooky one. This witch button is originated from 1970-1980 and is the ideal image that one may think of when they hear the word witch. However, the origins of the witch weren’t as spooky as one would think. In times where modern day medicine didn’t exist, some women were able to discover the ability to treat sickness with herbal treatments. They were often midwives and weren’t dancing around bonfires and chanting. However, some forms of Christianity saw what these women were doing as wrong. they believed any healing should be done through men of the Church. Early people also believed that any sickness was a punishment from God, and anyone who tried to cure it was an evil doer. Later on, they would be accused of being Satan worshipers.

Now onto a less disturbing topic: leaves. They are one of the most obvious symbols for the Fall season. They remind us of the constant change we are going through in life, its cycle of renewal, and passing of time. To the left you can see an array of Autumn leaves.

Back to everyone’s least favorite symbol for Halloween: spiders! They are known for their creepy-crawly ways, and no one wants to be around them. They were popularized during the month of October as a witch’s sidekick, and there was a theory that if a spider fell into a candle, that meant that a witch was near by. Here we have two creepy crawlers in the form of a button. I don’t know about you, but I am glad that these spiders aren’t real.

This next symbol for month of October is probably the most popular by far – the pumpkin. Once the leaves start to change and sweater weather begins, America goes into pumpkin everything mode. From Starbuck’s famous pumpkin spiced latte, to pumpkin patches, to pumpkin scones, and baby pumpkin Halloween costumes, the world is obsessed! But no one ever said that was a bad thing. To the right we have one more pumpkin object to add to the obsession – a pumpkin button.

This next symbol is thought about less but is still popular among the Autumn time of year. Acorns begin to fall from the oak tree and scatter everywhere on grass and sidewalks. At Ohio State, it is hard to walk through the oval without noticing the thousands of acorns that have already fallen from the trees. We have an assortment of 55 acorn buttons to display today, and let’s just say that the amount of acorn buttons we have is a little nuts!

What button would you wear? What reminds you most of the month of October? Is it the Halloween aspect of month filled with ghosts, spooky stories, and tricks or treats? Or are you more of the falling leaves and pumpkin spice person?

















Cashin Copycats

The Historic Clothing and Textiles Collection here at Ohio State is currently sorting through our own collection of Bonnie Cashin outfits as part of a 2018 National Endowment of Humanities funded Preservation Assistance Grant. Cashin was a well known fashion designer with a creating span of over 40 years. She became known as one of the “Mothers of American Sportswear,” and was known for frequently saying, “chic is where you find it.” Unimpressed with many of the day’s fashions, she created her own line called “Bonnie Cashin Designs”. Cashin’s designs were new and original for the time she created them. However, many of her designs have been reinvented by “copycats” without any credit or acknowledgment for Cashin. She was once quoted as saying, “The moment you think of an idea, it is no longer yours exclusively.” Perhaps she knew that her designs would be copied one day because of how unique and original they were. Today, it is hard to know what was her idea because the designs have become ever-so mainstream in modern day.

Cashin was born on September 15, 1908 to an inventor and a photographer. From a young age, she was brought into a world of original thinking and creativity. Her mother had opened a custom dress shop in California where she learned to sew before she could write. She made her way from California to New York and became “the youngest designer to ever hit Broadway.” Later, she would go on to create clothing for women in armed forces, Hollywood, sportswear, and more. Cashin wanted to make clothing for women that played a certain role, not just what was the latest trend. This may have been what set her apart in her designs, or how she cultivated such unique ideas.

To combat against copycats, Stephanie Lake, Cashin’s heir and owner to her personal design archive, created an Instagram account called “Cashincopy” in order to showcase the true work of Cashin and display side by side images of today’s knockoffs. One of the more controversial copycats was made by Calvin Klein. Raf Simons, designer for Calvin Klein’s 2018 Spring Collection, designed an orange poncho extremely similar to one of Cashin’s designs. From the color to the diagonal zipper front pockets and drawstring, Calvin Klein copied it almost exactly. More big name copycats include Miu Miu, Lisa Perry, Rachel Zoe, and Coach.

Bonnie Cashin was perhaps one of the most original fashion designers to date. From the start to the end of her career, she never had any investors or assistant designers to help her. Her style was unique, one of a kind, and the first of its kind. The remakes began in the sixties and still continue today. Stephanie Lake was quoted, “She wished that people copying her would do a better job. And in the sixties she went to D.C. to campaign for designers’ rights, acknowledging that people were going to copy but the originator of the idea should by law receive credit and compensation.”













College Students: What were they Wearing?

Have you ever wondered what you would have worn to an Ohio State football game in 1926? Let’s just say it wasn’t crop tops and leggings. The Historic Clothing and Textiles Collection is currently showcasing college fashion throughout the past 150 years that encompasses a variety of style and culture. From 1870 to World War II and beyond, visit our collection to view and learn about the different outfits worn by college students.

Let’s start with women’s fashion. When walking on campus in the late 1800’s to 
early 1900’s, you may have noticed a large number of bustles. This was the prime period when bustles were implemented into women’s everyday fashion. In the 1870’s, women’s dresses, which consisted of a skirt and bodice, were long and had a train to follow. As years went on, however, the dresses became less in  length to a few inches above the ground, and the train had just about disappeared.  However, as the dresses got shorter, the bustles only got bigger, putting more emphasis on the rear. They were usually adorned with bows and shaped with drapery.



Several dresses ranging from 1929-1940 are displayed as well. Women’s fashion definitely changed greatly from the turn of the the century to the 1920’s. Dresses were still below the knee, yet considerably long in today’s sense. They had a drop waist and loose fit, and you would often see Mary Jane’s or T-Strap heels  to finish the look.

If you went to a football game, you most likely would’ve cheered on the team in a raccoon fur coat, a cloche hat, and your favorite pair of fur-trimmed boots if you were a woman. For men, your university’s letter sweater and wool knickers would have been the go-to look.

The lower gallery showcases white dresses worn at either graduations or initiations. The first was a gift of Vera Lee Conley Cox from when she graduated from Antioch College. The second, was worn by a former OSU student, Ruth E. Moore. The off-white silk crepe two-piece was worn for both her high school graduation in 1922 and when she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority as well. Moore went on to receive not only her bachelors degree from Ohio State, but her masters and PhD in addition

Home Economics cooking class in Campbell Hall, 1953   

 The third dress is an off-white silk crepe dress with lace trim and a faux jacket front, which was worn by another OSU student, Margaret Jacob Dombey (class of 1927). Margaret was considered a rather beautiful woman and was crowned OSU May Queen in 1927 and Rosebud in 1924. She wore this dress for her initiation into Kappa Kappa Gamma and possibly her graduation. The fourth and last dress was of Anne Clark who graduated in 1955 from Ohio State. Her white pique dress was worn for her initiation into the Mortar Board Society.

Nurses weren’t the only ones to sport the white dress look. Female students in classes like home economics as pictured above to the right, also had to wear a uniform (white lab  dress) to class.

Our gallery is also displaying an array of International Student clothing, as well as outfits crafted by Ohio State Alumni themselves when they were students as Ohio State.  To the left  is  striped  maxi  dress  made  and  worn  by  Mary  Lou  Swisshelm  Star,  a student who  received  her undergraduate degree from Ohio State in 1970.

To learn and discover even more unique college styles throughout the decades, make sure to visit our exhibit. For times and location be sure to check out the rest of the website.













What Did Women Wear in the 1920s? 20s Fashion Trends

Rain Gear For April

It’s April. So that means there’s a good chance of rain! In the 1920s and 30s, the raincoats and trench coats weren’t quite the same as we have today. It all started because of World War I. Little did Thomas Burberry know that his revolutionary invention of gabardine would change the history of not only the fashion, but also the war.

1960-1969 – Clear plastic rain cape with black dots and trim. Comes with a detachable snap on hood

Raincoats are known for their water resistant material. In 1823, Charles Mackintosh developed the first waterproof coat. He formed it using rubberized cotton, which would face a multitude of problems. First of all, sewing needles would create tiny holes where water would seep in. So much for water resistance. Besides unable to be sewn, it would grow stiff in winter and sticky in the warmer temperatures.

In 1843, vulcanized rubber was invented, giving rubber a greater amount of durability and flexibility. The next development for raincoats came in 1879. The Burberry Company, run by Thomas Burberry,  developed gabardine. It coated individual fibers, giving even more flexibility and movement to the coat. In past years, producers would cover the entire coat in a chemical substance which hadn’t allowed for a natural drape unlike gabardine.

Then in 1926, Dr. Waldo Semon from Akron, Ohio wanted to find a way to bond rubber to metal. He experimented by exposing discarded material and chemicals to heat. Polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC or vinyl, was the result. It was a felxible “gel” much like natural rubber. In the 1920s and 30s, this was the main resource used in the production of raincoats. However, there was still an issue with this way of production. It was rather uncomfortable to wear and you still got wet. The wetness wasn’t from the rain, however. Rather, your sweat was not able to escape.

The next invention in rain gear was the trench coat. The idea of the trench coat was originally developed during World War I. Once again, this was a design invented by Mackintosh using rubberized cotton. During World War I, there was a high demand for lighter, more breathable, flexible, and weather proof coat. Officers and soldiers alike were wearing overcoats of serge made with a thick woolen material. This was doable on the home front, but in the trenches, it was a whole other story. The overcoats were too long and a sponge for mud, which made them even heavier and difficult to move in. The trench coat was the answer to all their problems.

Ad for Burberry trench coat

Two men, Thomas Burberry and John Emary, both claimed the invention of the trench coat. However, Burberry’s claim may have been more reliable with his invention of gabardine, the flexible, breathable, and waterproof fabric.

Today’s trench coat is influenced by the initial design meant for military. On the front, we have the epaulettes. They were designed to display  the rank of an officer. On the back, we have the storm shield and pleat. The storm shield enabled water to run off the coat and maintain dryness. Pleats were made to allow for the ease of movement, especially when riding horseback or running.

The same design is still made today. Gabardine, the water repellent and ventilated fabric, is used as well. What may be even more recognizable then the coat itself is the “Burberry check” that lines the inside. It is a combination of camel, ivory, red and black. It was used, and is still used, to line the inside of the iconic coat.

Humphrey Bogart

Trench coats became popular when soldiers came home from war and could be seen wearing the outerwear. Soon enough, Hollywood captured the look and adapted it to characters like the stereotypical detective. Stars from the 1940s, such as Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Kathrine Hepburn, and Audrey Hepbrun all can be found in film sporting the classic trench coat. The style remained popular further into the decade with Peter Falk in his classic television series, Columbo.

Trench coats have definitely stood the test of time for both their practicability and fashionable look. From WWI to the runway, they were and are a favorite among many. Today we can see famous models like Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, and Kate Moss still representing the Burberry product.





Spring Fashion: Hats!

Let’s talk hats! It’s spring and we all know what that means. It’s time to bring out the easter bonnets and hats decorated in flowers galore! In the early to mid 1900’s, a hat was part of a woman’s everyday outfit. Not only was it necessary, but one designer, Sally Victor, believed that the right hat could make any woman prettier.

Born on February 23, 1905 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sally Victor grew a love for design at the young age of eight. After her family moved to New York, her aunt, who happened to be a milliner, taught her the ins and outs to fixing and revitalizing hats. However, she began creating her own designs for herself and friends as well.

“Like most kids, I liked to copy the grown-ups, so it only seemed natural for me to start fashioning scraps of felt and ribbons into hats for my dolls. When I got a little older, my aunt taught to retrim and shape hats for her customers and on the side, I started dreaming up hats for myself and my friends too.”

-Sally Victor, 1949 Interview

Sally Victor began a successful career beginning at the age of 18. As a member of Macy’s millinery department, she was able to move up to assistant millinery buyer within three years. She gained more experience by working at Bamberger’s Department store in Newark.

After marrying Sergiu F. Victor, a wholesale milliner himself, in 1927, she started her own label in 1934 in New York where her hats would become popular in stores like Fifth Avenue. Victor became one of the most well-known milliners of her time, being known for her unique style and craftsmanship.

Victor was able to fuse both the vision of the buyer and seller in order to create a hat that anyone would love. Her number one motto was, “designing pretty hats that make women look prettier.” She once mentioned that she didn’t believe in fashion that didn’t make someone prettier. However, this view did receive some backlash after she was accused of  “designing too pretty, too feminine, too matronly hats.” – Eugenia Sheppard, New York Herald Tribune (March 25, 1964)

Victor gained her inspiration from a number of unique sources. They included Japanese armor, Chinese Lanterns, Native American Art, and works of various designers, one being Frank Lloyd Wright, an American Architect and interior designer. She sold for the mass market by offering baby bonnets, Pompadour hats, honey hives, Tudor tops, and Grecian Pillboxes just to name a few.

Among her achievements were winning the Fashion Critics millinery Award in 1943, the Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1944 and 1956, creating ready-to-wear hats as well as collapsible hats for easy travel, and rejuvenating the Ecuadorian economy with her revitalization of the Panama straw hat. And although she created hats for everyday wear and women, she also designed for First ladies Mamie Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy, and American actress and consumer advocate, Betty Furness.

Betty Furness’  career began with a staring role in Alice In Wonderland. In 1932, after various commercial advertisments and professional modeling, she was signed to a film contract with RKO Studios. She stared with well known names like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers giving her a career was successful that declined in the 1940s, however. So, she began her journey of commercial advertising once again. Furness worked for Westinghouse Products and was a natural in filming live broadcast commercials. Her independent nature, modest clothing, sense of style, and personality made for a perfect combination. She also became a regular in the ever-famous television series, What’s My Line?, where she was a frequent panelist. In 1953, Furness even started her own show Meet Betty Furness. In 1960, her advertisement career ended after the producer of Westinghouse Products decided he wanted a younger spokeswoman. Unable to be taken seriously because of her past commercial advertising reputation, she turned to radio along with promotion of the Democratic Party.

Betty Furness can be seen below wearing a hat by Sally Victor. It is a natural colored straw hat decorated with pink and beach poppies. 









Druesedow, Jean. Accessed on 3/27/19.Retrived from