Object of the Day

White patent pumps, Mary Janes, 1970’s

With the 1970’s came Disco, and the flashy styles in sequins, leather and polyester.  And when getting ready for a night of disco dancing, no outfit would be complete without a pair of platform shoes.  The pair of pumps from the collection, shown here, have a high, chunky heel, and a decorative buckle in the Mary Jane style.  They were handmade in Italy by “Salvanna di Torino,” bearing its logo on the insole.

The Mary Jane’s namesake comes from the comic strip character of this name in “Buster Brown,” first published in 1902.  The classic Mary Jane style has a low (or no) heel, a wide toe, a strap across the instep, and is usually associated with children and girls dress clothing.  Although, variations of this style are popular in modern women’s fashion, as shown below in this example from Prada’s 2012 collection.


Designer Spotlight

 LILY PULITZER, Cotton-Blend Shift, 1973

At age 21, Lily Pulitzer and her husband left their busy life in New York City to settle in Palm Beach where they owned several citrus groves.  There, Lily opened a juice stand.  To disguise the colorful juice stains that inevitably appeared on her clothes, Lily designed her own dresses out of brightly patterned fabrics.

Credit: Lilypulitzer.com

Three years later, an old schoolmate of hers, then First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, wore one of her dresses and suddenly the brand was born (pictured below at far right).

“Jackie wore one of my dresses – it was made from kitchen curtain material – and people went crazy. They took off like zingo. Everybody loved them, and I went into the dress business.” – Essentially Lilly, A Guide to Colorful Entertaining

Credit: lilypulitzer.com

Since then, the Lily Pulitzer brand has stayed true to her original vision. Starting with a “spill-proof” color palate, the textile print team develops its own prints and patterns.  Drawing inspiration from the beach, museums, paintings, and gardens, the team gives each design a uniquely creative name.

Ricci Shift in the “Hotty Pink Scorpion Bowl” print

Although the Lily Pulitzer is still known for the classic shift dresses, the brand expanded to include tops, scarves, purses and other vibrant accessories.  She also developed a children’s line, and a sorority line with separate prints for each.

"Kappa Alpha Theta" Print by Lily Pulitzer

Designer Spotlight

YVES SAINT LAURENT, Peach satin pumps, 1970s

Algerian born designer Yves Saint Laurent, (August 1st 1936- June 1st 2008), transformed the direction of women’s fashion in the 20th century. Laurent’s career began at the age of 17 for the fashion house of Christian Dior following his success in an international design competition. Four years later, Laurent found himself the Haute Couture designer for the label at the unexpected death of Dior. In 1960, following a traumatic military stint, Laurent founded his line of clothing, shoes and accessories with longtime partner Pierre Berge. The satin low-heel pumps in the Texas Tech collection are from his later creations in the 1970s, reflective of the styles from the 1930s and 1940s.

Yves Saint Laurent, Getty Images.

Berge and Laurent quickly gained fame for crafting couture-inspired ready-to-wear women’s clothing. Most famous of his designs is Le Smoking Tuxedo Suit, a female pantsuit aimed at questioning the boundaries of gender fashions. Androgynous influences such as exaggerated shoulders and undefined waistlines characteristically defined many of Laurent’s creations.

Sketch of Le Smoking Tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent 1966. From Telegraph Media Collection.

Le Smoking Tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent 1968. From Harper's Bazaar Collection.

Yves Saint Laurent further revolutionized late century fashion by employing the first ethnically diverse models on the runway. Bold colors, geometric shapes and masculine silhouettes additionally reflected his ethnic inspiration.

The Mondrian Dress, Yves Saint Laurent, Fall 1965 from Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.

Yves Saint Laurent is highly credited for his emphatic influence on women’s clothing trends throughout the 20th century, encouraging empowerment and equality by redefining feminine color choice and shape.

Object of the Day

Four Piece Cream Colored Suit with Rust Velvet Trim, 1977

Worn by Roger Williams

Roger Williams, world-renowned pianist, wore this suit for the first time for his appearance with the Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Concert. It was subsequently worn for concerts at the White House for President Nixon and Ford. The suit was also worn when Mr. Williams preformed with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra in the city’s first Summer Pops Night in 1977. The suit was then given to Museum on June 10th, 1977.

In 1975, the curator of Textiles at the Museum saw Roger Williams perform with the Boston Symphony orchestra on television. She wrote to Mr. Williams complimenting the performance and adding a request to have the suit that he wore to be donated to the collection. She wrote, “It occurred to me that your formal suit would be a very significant addition to our collection, its modern and sophisticate as it is, it borrows inspiration from a much earlier period. Is there a possibility that you might consider placing it in our museum when you have finished your season of wearing it?” In a hand written response, Mr. Williams said, “That’s a brand new suit, but when I’m through wearing it, it’s yours!”

Hand written letter from Roger Williams. “That’s a brand new suit, but when I’m through wearing it, it’s yours!”

Roger Williams is known for his 1955 hit “Autumn Leaves” which was the only piano instrumental to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts. It remains the best-selling piano record of all time, with more than 2 million sold.

He was nicknamed the “pianist to the presidents,” Mr. Williams played for every commander in chief from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. His last trip to the White House was in 2008, when he performed at a luncheon for then-first lady Laura Bush.

The suit was worn on the cover of his album, "Roger Williams Live".

Mr. Williams was good friends with Jimmy Carter, with whom he shared a birthday. When the two men turned 80, Mr. Williams played a 12-hour marathon at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, with the former president in attendance.

Roger Williams passed away on October 8th 2011, he was 87.