Staff Favorite

Rattlesnake skin jacket, 1946

Made by a Mr. Payne for Bert Wallace from rattlesnakes he trapped in 1944 on the O-Bar-o Ranch in Kent Co. He was a Trapper for the Federal Government at the time. Given to the Museum of Texas Tech University in 1963. The reason I like this coat is the fact that it is snake skin and the time and effort that went into making this jacket.

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Exhibit News

Today is the first Friday of the month and that means it’s time for the First Friday Art Trail. Today we will be replacing the center dress with this 1941 wedding gown.

This traditional style wedding gown in ivory brocade was worn by Louise Hopkins for her marriage to Harris Faulkner Underwood II on October 12, 1941, at St. Matthews Cathedral in Dallas, TX.  Included in the wedding ensemble is a long veil with face cover and adorned with feathers at the crown, and white satin, heeled sandals.

As with many wedding dresses during WWII, this gown was worn multiple times.  It was also worn by Mrs. Underwood’s sister, Madeleine Hopkins to James K. Wade, as well as her niece.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite wedding dress here or at the museum for the dress that will be featured in the center May 2012.

Exhibit News

Today is the first Friday of the month and that means it’s time for the First Friday Art Trail. Today we will be replacing all the gowns displayed in the gallery with gowns from 1930s thru the 1940s.  The feature dress this month is this 1939 wedding ensemble.

This deep purple wool and mink trimmed coat and dress ensemble was worn by Florence Lawson at her marriage to V. L. Lawson, on Dec. 23, 1939, at 7:30pm in Lubbock, TX.

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These dresses shown here will be on display in Gallery 1 from March – May 2012.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite wedding dress here or at the museum for the dress that well be featured in the center May 2012.

Object of the Day

RICARDE OF HOLLYWOOD, Gold toned Filigree Necklace, early 1940s

This Ricarde of Hollywood necklace dates from the early 1940’s. It is believed that this piece is a replica of a necklace worn in the movie Juarez with Bette Davis or possibly from the movie Gone With the Wind. Some Gone with the Wind researchers claim that it matches a bracelet with red stones, which was worn by Belle Watling in the movie. This necklace is beautifully designed with raised intricate fretwork and the stones are rhinestones or possibly paste.

Bette Davis in the movie Juarez, wearing a necklace that could be possibly the inspiration for the Ricarde of Hollywood necklace.

Designer Spotlight

LUCIEN LELONG, Grey-Blue Chiffon and Silk Wedding Dress, 1946

Mrs. Kay Boutin wore this long grey-blue chiffon wedding dress with full-gauged skirt, wide scoop neckline and chiffon bow for her wedding to Major Paul Boutin on May 29, 1946 in Paris, France.  Paul Boutin was a Major in the US Army and Mrs. Kay Boutin  was an Army Librarian with the special services. The Bride wore a white orchid in her hair, carried a bouquet of white orchids and wore long white kid gloves. The dress was made by Lucien Lelong, and this particular one was one of his designs post WWII.

This is the original Bill of Sale for the Delong wedding dress purchased on May 27, 1946, days before the wedding.

Lucien Lelong (October 11, 1889 – May 11, 1958) was a French couturier who was prominent from the 1920s to the 1940s.  He is most remembered for his heroic diplomatic efforts to sustain Parisian couture during World War II. He was elected as president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in 1937, which would prove to be his greatest challenge and contribution to fashion.

As president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, it was his job to negotiate with the occupying German regime. The Nazis wanted to move Paris fashion to Berlin by any means, including violence. On July 20, 1940 five Nazi officers arrived at the headquarters of the Chambre Syndicale on an ‘inspection’; five days later they broke into the building and requisitioned the archive and seize all of the  documents pertaining to the French export trade.

Lucien Lelong

Under the plan of the Nazis, Paris ateliers would be moved to Germany or Austria, where they would train a new generation of German dressmakers. The designers would also be moved. Within a generation, the Nazis expected, couture would be German, not French. Lelong pointed out that the plan was unworkable. The skills, he explained, were unteachable, that you could not transfer them, and it took decades to reach the necessary levels of craftsmanship.

This iconic photo of Lisa in a Lucien Lelong gown swinging precariously off the Eiffel Tower, was taken by Erwin Blumenfeld for Vogue 1939

By 1941 the Germans had issued textile ration cards to every design house. It was obvious that compliance with these regulations would spell the end of Paris couture. Lelong, through difficult negotiations, obtained exemptions for 12 houses. Lelong said, “Unfortunately the Germans noticed at the end of six months that 92 houses were operating, which led to more discussions. Finally we succeeded in keeping 60.” Madame Grés and Balenciaga both exceeded their yardage requirements one season and were ordered to close for two weeks. Banding together in a show of unity and force, the remaining houses finished the two collections so they could be shown on time.

Natalie Paley (Mrs. Lucien Lelong from 1927-1937) wearing a black sequined evening gown by Lelong, photo by Man Ray, 1934

Lelong is credited with saving over 12,000 workers from deportation into German war industries. Over the period of four years, 14 official conferences had been held with the Germans, at four of them the Germans had announced that la couture was to be entirely suppressed, and each time the French avoided catastrophe.

Lucien Lelong evening gown design illustrated by Rene Gruau, 1947

 Lelong employed many talented young designers and gave them the opportunity to grow professionally. Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Hubert de Givenchy, and Jean Schlumberger were all employed by Lelong at one time or another.

Lelong retired in 1948 and died a decade later near Biarritz. He showed a total of 110 collections during his career, and though closed his couture business, he continued a fragrance business which he had started in the 1924 and is still in existence today.

Object of the Day

 Garnet Red Velvet Dress, 1943

This red velvet dress was worn by Carol Krueger (wife of famed football player Bobby Layne), to have her portrait painted in 1943.  The long fur-cuffed sleeves were removed from the dress after the portrait was completed.

Some of the features of the dress are the scoop fur lined neckline, the full skirt and the row of three velvet bows down the front of the bodice.

Object of the Day

Black Velveteen Clutch Purse, 1940s

Made in India, this envelope style purse with embroidered flap shows a great example of gold thread embroidery called Zardozi.  Gold thread embroidery reached its peak in India during the height of the Mughal Empire under the rule of Akbar the Great (1556- 1605). The imperial style of metal thread embroidery was revived in North India after they recived their independence in 1947. However, the threads used today are generally silver or gold colored copper.

Designer Spotlight

MAINBOCHER, Garnet Red Taffeta Evening Dress, 1946

Based on his experience as a Paris-based illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar and editor of French Vogue, Chicago-born Main Rousseau Bocher (October 24, 1890 – December 27, 1976) decided that he was entirely capable of opening his own couture house. He did so in 1930, first contracting his name to Mainbocher. At the start of World War II in 1940, Mainbocher closed his Paris salon and moved to New York. Though he intended to stay only for the duration of the war, he worked in New York until his retirement in 1971. Due to a policy of accepting new clients only through personal recommendation, Mainbocher’s salon was known as the most exclusive in New York City. Further reinforcing the impression of exclusivity was the lack of advertising. Rather than placing ads in fashion periodicals, Mainbocher relied on word-of-mouth publicity.

Mainbocher was the one to design the famous Navy Waves Uniform. The first uniforms for the armed services designed by a well-known designer, they received much media coverage. Shown is Mainbocher’s military summer working uniforms in a grey seersucker dress with a matching jacket and distinctive collar design.

Mainbocher’s garments were created in the strict tradition of haute couture. Clients selected a garment or garments based on the models seen during the daily 3 p.m. showing at the salon. A personalized garment was then created specifically for the client and fitted over several weeks. Due to their high-quality fit, construction and fabric, Mainbocher’s garments were extraordinarily expensive and long-lasting. A 1961 Vogue feature on Mainbocher noted this, suggesting that anyone interested in Mainbocher’s work carefully weigh the “spectacular longevity of Mainbocher’s clothes as a good, long-range-economy argument for paying prices among the highest in the world.”

Two models singing wearing sleeveless Victorian-style dinner dresses by Mainbocher (1944)