Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A rare example of a Zuckerman & Kraus suit- from 1949. Zuckerman & Kraus was the company that Ben Zuckerman formed in the late 1920's until 1949, when he left the company.

This suit is really wonderful. It has three columns of buttons, with the centre button being functional and the other two decorative. This feature really jazzes up a basic wool suit. As this suit was made in 1949 it was in all probability from the final collection of Zuckerman & Kraus. You can see the excellence in tailoring and design that became hallmarks at Ben Zuckerman.

Photo courtesy of CoutureAllure.com

Monday, 28 December 2009

From the March 1966 Harper's Bazaar- American Know How.

'Ben Zuckerman-Young, young suits -brief jackets, little vests, kicky skirts,white wool twill and crepe.'

It is interesting to see what is considered young in 1966- suits, gloves, hats and low heeled shoes. Very formal compared to what is worn today!

Ben Zuckerman refused to follow the trends of the mid 1960's- he showed skirts that covered the knee, though the skirts were shorter than in previous years. His creations were beautifully constructed, elegant and chic uniforms designed with ladies in mind. Zuckerman stated that he was only trying to dress a hundred thousand ladies- and that was all. A lighthearted touch to his shows of this time were the presence of his two poodles- BZ and HS.

In 1966 he showed pale colours- mauve, lettuce green, white and pale pink coats over black dresses.  He felt that pale colours could be worn in winter rather than switching to heavier, darker shades.

My latest Zuckerman, a grey tweed suit dating from the early 1950's.  It features large decorative buttons, folded cuffs at the wrist, 6 faux pockets and a nipped waist.

The suit is made of a heavy wool. The tailoring is exceptional and the buttons are very heavy and made of mother-of-pearl.

An interesting detail is the slits located on both sides of the bottom of the skirt, they go up about 6 inches and will make walking easier.

Photos courtesy of Dressingvintage.com

Sunday, 27 December 2009

From the 7 May 1965 Life Magazine- She Commands a Daytime Uniform.

'Two customers stand in a fitting room entrance in almost identical coats from Ben Zuckerman. Mrs Thomas Choate at left has on a beige, and Mrs Darlington Pitney has on a navy blue. These coats, worn over a sleeveless dress, have taken the place of suits for most Jo Hughes (of DePinna- the high end boutique) girls.'

Six months previously, Zuckerman had came out against the floppy, 'unconstructed' look. He said 'I like some of the new, kooky clothes. They are cute on the young girls. But they aren't for ladies, I make only lady clothes.' His fall collection for 1964 featured coats and suits that were as slick as uniforms. They were tailored by someone who was smart enough to let the tailoring do the talking.

The models in this show were well groomed and polished. Brass buttons were shining on his jackets fronts and on the French cuffs. Waists were neatly cinched. Linens were a feature with a number of light colour wrist-length jackets over two piece dresses. Also featured were tweeds, brocades and embossed cottons.

Zuckerman prefered grey and navy blue this season, and he had white collars on a number of his suits and coats. White cotton was also used frequently, in suits and coats that were lined in bright green silk, but black was not excluded as there were a few black alpaca suits.

Over 200 outfits were shown. Zuckerman was thrilled to receive a new customer who ordered over $60, 000 worth of clothing. Another customer reported that he had sold well over $1,000,000 worth the previous year. 

In the space of about 10 years, fashion has gone 'youthful', with much less accessories (no hat for example).

Saturday, 26 December 2009

From the 12 July 1963 Life Magazine- Models bundled up in bold and  booted Autumn innovations. Shown here is a tweed Zuckerman suit $475 with a visor cap.

One month before Zuckerman had shown his latest collection. Noted were the many tweeds and the many bright blue, coral and pastel colour ensembles. Coats came with matching dresses, or with a jersey or silk blouse and tweed skirt. Also noted were:

-Open suit jackets showing brocade or velvet blouses.

-The shapely black dress in heavy crepe.

-For evening, the typical lightly fitted coat was floor length and worn over a dress matched to its lining, often in brocade.

-Fur was worn as a doublet topping day or evening dresses.

From the April 1955 Women's Home Companion, an article featuring Grace Kelly and how she is able to 'travel light'.

This is an ensemble, with a travel coat and suit, herringbone tweed, arrow straight, over a yarn-dyed worsted suit with easy skirt. Both from Ben Zuckerman. Miss Kelly will board the plane in those so it is not necessary to weigh them (as this article was giving hints on how to pack so as to avoid going over the 66 pound limit for international flights). The coat goes over everything in the wardrobe except an evening dress.

Ben Zuckerman was a favorite of Grace Kelly, she wore an ensemble by him when she arrived in Monaco to marry her prince. She also wore a suit from Zuckerman when she left New York to sail to Monaco and she also purchased a beige coat to wear during the week running up to her marriage.

Princess Grace was not the only royal fan of Ben Zuckerman. In 1964 the Duchess of Windsor attended a charity fashion show where a number of designers were showing their latest wares, including Mollie Parnis, Bill Blass, Pauline Trigere, Jerry Silverman and Ben Zuckerman. When Zuckerman sent out a lovely white cotton brocade evening suit, double breasted with brass buttons, the Duchess cried out 'That is a lovely dress!'.

August 10, 1979-  Leader in Ready-to-Wear, Ben Zuckerman, died at his home in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 89.

Zuckerman was one of 13 children, born in Romania on 29 July 1890. He was brought to America as a child by his parents, and settled in New Jersey. His formal education ended at age 15 and he began work as a floor sweeper in a dress factory on Canal Street for $3 a week. He gradually learned the cutting trade, and at 21 he formed a partnership with Joseph Hoffman, making expensive coats and suits. In the late 1920's Zuckerman formed a partnership with Kraus, which continued until 1949. At this time he traveled around Europe and returned to American in 1950 to open his own business. 

Harry Shacter was his designer, and the two formed a very successful partnership, which lead to both becoming charter members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Zuckerman became very well known for his well constructed, high quality suits, dresses and coats. They were know as having the fit and feel of Parisian originals, and were seen as the only clothes made in America that looked as if they were designed by Dior or Balenciaga.

Zuckerman won the Coty American Fashion Critics award in 1952 and 1956. In 1961 he received the Hall of Fame award. In 1951 he received the Neiman-Marcus award.

Molly Parnis, another well known American designer, said 'He never was replaced. There's nobody who does uniquely and exactly what he did. He had a marvelous flair for fabric and colour, and putting them all together. He took such pride in his clothes that nobody could sell them better than he could.'

Zuckerman was always praised for his tailoring, but he never learned to sew. He could cut and drape like a master. He was well know for his devotion to every detail of his business, from delivering thousands of dollars of merchandise to a store, to filling an order for a yard of fabric for a customer's hat. 

He is survived by a brother, Joseph, of Los Angeles.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

From the 12 February, 1967 L.A. Times- Stunning Coat-to-Coat Style Broadcasts a Clear Fashion Message.

From left to right- White wool ottoman coat and silver striped dress by Christian Dior, Ben Zuckerman's green coat trimmed with white takes on a coachman's air and Jacques Tiffeau's green, yellow and white plaid goes with a yellow dress.

Zuckerman's coat was a light, bright green with broad shoulders and a belted back. It featured coachman-type slanted pockets, a sharply notched collar and three-quarter length sleeves. A trim of white grossgrain commands attention to these details.

In 1967 Zuckerman made three quarters of his collection in French Racine Jersey. He had gone for ultra luxury in his evening clothing, with the use of fur trims. A favorite costume was in petal pink and was cuffed and collared in chinchilla. Another favorite was in brown and beige diagonal tweed with a jacket trimmed in black Persian lamb. Coats were cinched with kidskin belts with large buckles.

Ben Zuckerman Breaks a Rule:

Ben Zuckerman, interviewed in June 1966, discussed how he intended to keep making suits, even thought popular wisdom at the time said the suit was 'dead'. He was barely able to keep up with the demand for his suits, as well as his dresses and coats. He was able to sell winter wools in May and June and had just completed $250,000 worth of winter merchandise, saying 'It doesn't matter when they sell, the are undated clothes.'

Pauline Trigere, a competitor of Zuckerman's had another viewpoint. She said 'I told Ben that when his customers hear he is going out of business, they rush out to buy a Zuckerman suit to make sure they have something to wear for the next 10 years.

Zuckerman agreed that rumors of his retirement, which recur every few years have the effect of a 'fire sale'. He had recently had an offer on his business, but refused. He had just had a show in April, called an 'early fall' collection, of 60 styles, which is a third of the usual collections.

Zuckerman recalled the early days of his business. In 1911 he went into business at age 21 with Joseph Hoffman. He formed a partnership with Morris Kraus in 1924, which continued until 1949 when Zuckerman went out of business. He was persuaded back into business on 9 November 1950 and hired Harry Schacter as his designer.

Ben Zuckerman also talked about his most popular dress of 1966, a grey wool shirt dress with buttons down the front and pockets at the hips. He also made the same dress in black velvet and red brocade. Another favorite was the 'Mame'- a white cool coat bordered in blue fox which was inspired by the musical of the same name.

Most o

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

From the 24 November, 1958 Life Magazine- White for Night.

'A satin evening coat accented with jet buttons worn with a matching satin turban and black velvet dress, $400.'

Ben Zuckerman's collection for 1958 featured an array of brillian colours. Deep sky blue, coral and hibisucs pinks, lilac and golden beige were some of the many shades seen. 

Coats were seen in shocking pink, tangerine, marigold yellow and bright red. Coats generally had a flared shape, and often featured belts or huge pockets. Bows appeared on silk coats, 

Suits this year included the Norfolk silhouette, which is a loose, belted, single-breasted jacket with box pleats on the back (and sometimes front), with a belt or half-belt.

From the same Feb 1962 Harper's Bazaar.

A black and white tweed suit, with a leather belt. The jacket is called a 'smaller jacket with a smaller sleeve and flatter collar.' Cloche skirt, cut in sections, by Zuckerman in British Woollen Tweed. About $265. At Bonwit Teller, L.S.Ayers, I Magnin.

Ben Zuckerman's show in June 1962 featured 175 coats and suits. Matching scarves or ties highlighted the neckline of suits and coatdresses. Long jackets were a major theme. Coats were broad shouldered. Evening looks were of textured tweed, lined in moire or brocade to match an overblouse or dress.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

From the 31 January 1960 Hartford Courant- Look of the New Decade-the 1960 Suit.

'Bared suit in French worsted sheer by Ben Zuckerman. Low pitched neckline, unpressed pleated skirt. Beige and white, 8-14, $255.'

Ben Zuckerman presented his latest collections- and earned the nickname 'Grand old man of the market.' The 1960 suits included jackets in a new length that dipped to mid-thigh. Jackets skimmed away from the body and were usually single breasted. Instead of a collar on one Glen plaid jacket, it had a ring of fur that could be knotted.

Coats were often very full, almost like capes. Short fur coats, belted in leather were worn over simple black wool dresses that 'have a lifetime of wear ahead.' 

Fur was used throughout, especially on the evening costumes. Several of the evening ensembles were lined in mink.

From the 5 February 1957 Chicago Daily Tribune.

'Its the 1930s in the fashion world right now! And that means pleats, loose fitting Chanel type jackets, tunics and capes. Ben Zuckerman designed this navy serge suit ($245). The jacket, slightly indented at the waist, is to be worn open to show the white silk blouse with the neckline bow.'

In March of 1957, Ben Zuckerman was part of a show put on by several leading designers of the time, including Monte-Santo & Pruzan and Maurice Rentner. The show was held in Chicago. Zuckerman showed the only coloured coats in the show. The first was an oyster white was full and flowing with elbow length sleeves and two highly placed buttons. It cost $199.95. The other coat was a mauvey tweed with two high fake pockets and two larger real ones just below the waist.  It buttoned once at the neck and once at the waist and was a slimmer cut. The sleeves were three-quarter length. This coat also cost $199.95.

Monday, 21 December 2009

From the 14 February, 1964 Life Magazine- Dolls in Guys Clothing.

'Sharply tailored, the suits are worn with pumps with contrast-colour heels (Capezio) that suggest spats and snap brim hats (Adolfo). They include the box-jacket suit (Seymour Fox, $215), braid-bound suit (Ben Zuckerman, $375), suit with organdy blouse (Geoffrey Beene, $250) and white suit (Ben Zuckerman, $275).'

Youthful looks were seen at Ben Zuckerman in 1964. He advocated crisp fabrics. He featured the 'schoolgirl' look in white linen, as well as a lipstick red blouse under a pale blue suit. Striped or plaid dresses in silk with matching coats provided a young alternative to brocade.

Zuckerman continued to show slim skirts. He also had a number of jackets with large patch pockets and low belted waistlines.

From the 1 September, 1954 Vogue, an ad featuring a super feminine coat by Ben Zuckerman made up of wool from the A.D. Ellis Wool Mill.

'Ben Zuckerman's striking sweep of flowing line... taking its distinction from Ellis pure cashmere, luxury fabric with the fabulous air of romantic Tibet- and as precious as your most prized possession.'

Ben Zuckerman was well known by this time for his incredible tailoring.  His suits, in 1954, had waistlines tapered to the smallest possible dimension. Skirts were reed thin, but not tight. They had a fold or pleat to provide freedom of motion. He also featured rounded 'lily pad' collars or collars with points nearly to the shoulder. 

Fabrics helped to make Ben Zuckerman more luxurious. He featured the new at the time silk and wool blends, as well as alpaca. The highlight was seen as a homespun wool suit in honey-beige with braid trim. 

Coats ranged from fleecy pink to slim silhouettes in navy blue worsted. Many of the coats were in seven-eights length.

My latest Zuckerman, a suit with blouse dating from the 1960's. The suit is made cotton and features large mother of pearl buttons.

The style of this suit closely mimics the suits favoured by Jackie Kennedy when she was First Lady. Ben Zuckerman was suggested as a designer for the First Lady along side with Stella Sloat and Norman Norell by Diana Vreeland, the famed editor of Vogue.

This suit also features a label from De Pinna, which was a high end department store founded in 1885 by Albert De Pinna. In 1950 the store, located in New York, was bought out by Julius Garfinckel & Co. In 1969 the store closed.

Photos courtesy of Saraplotz.

In November 1960 Ben Zuckerman had his Spring showing. Zuckerman showed the three piece suit as a feature of the collection. The jacket was slightly boxy and there was an overblouse, mostly sleeveless, and often made of silk. The skirts were slim cut. Buttons were large and showy. Tailoring was superb. The look was sportswear raised to the nth degree.

Also in this collection were many coats, most of which were tent-like and swirling. He had a number of late afternoon coats in black that were lined in lemon yellow, mauve or pink taffeta and teamed with a simple black dress.

It was noted as well that pink was a prominent colour in the collection as well as tobacco brown.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

From the 15 March, 1964 L.A. Times.

'Sky blue over yellow textured silk is Ben Zuckerman's way with the Costume Look, where an almost-fitted coat slides over a slim princess dress.'

Zuckerman's collection, which was shown in June of the same year was a triumph. His new pastels were mauvey pink and violet, though he did have some baby blue and pink coats. Some of the highlights of his collection included the tailored wool coats with jeweled buttons over a matching dress,  a hot pink theatre suit featuring a short wool jacket over a lighter weight wool dress and the raincoats cuffed in sable or lined in snow leopard.

His 1964 collection was made up of 283 pieces, all designed by Harry Schaeter.  When Mr Zuckerman was asked which collection was his favorite of the many he has shown since 1925, he replied 'Todays'.

From the 21 March, 1965 Hartford Courant-  Caravan Cargo Includes Scrambled Combinations.

'Tailored Look- A tailored ensemble in white pique, designed for evening by Ben Zuckerman. The dress has a square neckline and narrow shoulder straps, the jacket is double breasted with gold buttons.'

Also shown in 1965 were double faced wools from Italy in grey and camel, pale grey checks,  and two-textured charcoal wools. He made suits in regency pink, mauve, cerise, lightened lilac and red.  The highlight of this collection was seen to be the red princess coat, fitted, flared and collared in a sable shawl.

From the 1 August, 1956 Vogue- an advertisement for two lovely Zuckerman suits in black and white tweed. The top suit has an interesting cut-away jacket over a belted dress. The lower suit features a dress with a patent leather belt and a coat with a mock cape. Both models wear hats by Mr. John, who was a top milliner in the 1950's and 60's.

The suits were available at the Dayton Oval Room- which was a high end boutique in the Dayton Stores. Dayton's was founded in 1902 and closed its doors in 2001.

Friday, 18 December 2009

From the February, 1956 Harper's Bazaar-String Beige.

'The lightweight spring wool suit, further lightened by its cut- the hip bone jacket, the flare-pleated skirt- and a twist of marigold silk tucked into the collar.'

Grace Kelly,pictured wearing the same suit, is about to depart the US for her wedding to the Prince of Monaco.

Grace Kelly was a big fan of Ben Zuckerman, and asked him to design her several suits and outfits for her wedding in Monaco. Apparantly Mr Zuckerman was so overwhelmed by this request that his spring season clothing of 1956 were late. Another well known outfit by Zuckerman worn by Grace Kelly is the navy dress and coat that she wore when arriving in Monaco.