Saturday, 28 May 2011

A wonderful Ben Zuckerman evening ensemble, made up of a dress and coat in a peachy-golden brocade (seen in close up in the last picture). The fabric of the outfit is very heavy and substantial, and both the coat and dress are lined in thick satin. This outfit is the finest quality ready-to-wear available in the 1960's. For example, the sleeves are set by hand.

This outfit was retailed at Sara Fredericks, a high end boutique named after it's owner. Ms Fredericks lived in Palm Beach, Florida, and owned a chain of stores that sold the top names of the era. Ms Fredericks opened her first store in 1940, in Boston and a number of years later opened her store on Worth Street in Palm Beach. She lived 'above the store' in a luxury apartment. Ms Fredericks was involved in her business right up to her death at age 83 in 1986.

Pictures courtesy of bos-cal

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A really pretty Ben Zuckerman dress in black or navy, from Vogue, 1 March 1956.

' Eloquent Elegance interpreted as the Spring daytime look by Ben Zuckerman. Of chiffon worsted in black or navy... a quartet of tiny bow and rows of round-and-round stitching to mark the way of the subtly eased unbelted sihouette. From our Immediate Wear Collection, $155.'

This dress was retailed at Henri Bendel, an upscale department store based originally in New York with several other stores located around America. The store opened in 1895. In 2009 the store made the decision to stop carrying apparal, and concentrate on home accessories, perfume and cosmetics.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

An undated Ben Zuckerman, likely from the mid 1950's- Brown Crossed With Black.

'Brown and black, worn, woven, mixed together; as sure a fashion as was ever prophesied. Never better than when the colours are crossed, in a long-haired or boldly textured cloth.

The carved suit - A suit with new signs; a widened skirt, an inflated collar, a waist smaller than life. Made in Miron's firm ribbed worsted. Suit by Ben Zuckerman, $175, gloves by Superb, jewels from Verdura, alligator bag (a polished black for a black-crossed woollen).'

This is truly a perfect New Look suit, and the entire ensemble is what many people would picture if they think about clothing in the 1950's.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

From a 1966 magazine- Ben Zuckerman- designed by Harry Shacter.

This pale coat is double breasted and has a small collar, three-quarter length sleeves and flap pockets at the hip. The model has a youthful haircut, a sign of the changing times in the mid to late 1960's.

From Jessica Daves' 'Ready-Made Miracle'-

'Each of the top manufacturing houses is headed by a character. It is no accident that the men and women who head these businesses are positive people. Ben Zuckerman, the senior member of the club, is reported to be 70 years old; some affectionate admirer say that they have been to at least three 70th birthday parties for Ben, all held in successive years in Paris during the collections. He could be almost any age; he is spare, handsome, aqueline, immaculately tailored, and when he presents the Zuckerman collection he presents it with a mixture of casual wit, drama and coziness that could have made him a stage star. He has been known, in the course of showing his models, to rip the lining from a coat, fling it out before one of the observers and remark 'This is the way Ben Zuckerman makes coats, I want you to see.' The Zuckerman showings are notable for the number of designs exposed to the buyers- 300 is about par here; few other houses are so prodigal. Ben Zuckerman is known as the 'best tailor in the business'; so people think the best in the world. His unsensational, assured suits and coats keep their recognizable line whether they are city day or city evening. Zuckerman was originally half of a firm known as Zuckerman and Kraus, dating from 1925. The firm has been Ben Zuckerman since 1950, the garments produced are distributed to every state in the union.'

Saturday, 14 May 2011

An undated Ben Zuckerman ensemble made up of a sheath dress and matching jacket. The jacket is really special, being lined in leopard- possibly a print but also possibly the real thing. Leopard fur was made popular in the 1960s by Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore a leopard fur coat whilst her husband was President of the US. This lead to a craze for leopard fur, and it is estimated that tens of thousands of leopards were killed to meet the demand, as well as many cheetahs, jaguars, cloud leopards and ocelots. Sadly leopards were driven nearly to extinction, as they did not recieve official protection until 1973, long after the damage was done. Even to this day the leopard is still endangered, and the risk of it being made extinct is still there as a number of countries continue to hunt this magnificent animal. This outfit was retailed at Nan Duskin, Philadelphia. Nan Duskin was a very high end store who sold to the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco. It was a store where couture garments could be bought. Nan Duskin opened in 1926, and closed its flagship store in 1994.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

From The New Yorker magazine, September 1965- Look to Lord and Taylor.

'For the suit superb- the new and beautiful, the pace-setters, the world's superlatives, skimmed from the top of the American and European coutures for our designer suit collections.

The prize here- Ben Zuckerman's exquisitely turned out suit of the dinner-and-theatre persuasions, in Italian pink woll with gleaming blouse. 495.00.'

This must have been quite an ensemble- the buttons appear to gleam in the illustration, so the original must have been even more special.

Jessica Daves writes of Ben Zuckerman in her book 'Ready-Made Miracle'-

'The top echelon, for all their comparatively small output and the comparatively few women who can afford their clothes, in spite of the fact that their production is such a small fraction of the ready to wear industry- these makers are important to the whole scheme of fashion in the United States. They are important because they set a standard and uphold it. The wearer of the inexpensive American dress wears it with more assurance because houses like Zuckerman, Trigere and Norell exsist in America. These designers give an importanct to American fashion that permeates from the top down.'

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A very long and lean Ben Zuckerman suit, probably in black or navy, with a small ring collar and what appears to be princess seaming on the jacket. This suit, which is undated, would likely be from the mid 1950's. Even though most people associate the 1950's with crinoline skirts, there was also the fashion for straight, figure hugging skirts and jackets.

Ben Zuckerman was truly an American sucess story- as noted in the book 'Ready Made Miracles' by Jessica Daves. She wrote that the clothing industry was the most volatile industry in the US. Two out of every three dress houses have a volume of less than $1,000,000 a year. In Zuckerman's area, the suit and coat houses, fewer than 200 houses were in existance for more than 25 years, and hardly any were owned by second generations of the original founders.

I Magnin, an important buyer in 1967 when this book was published, noted that of a list of important design houses from 1929 only 6 houses were still in existance. The houses were George Carmel, Seymour-Fox, Maurice Rentner, Monte-Sano, Fretchel and Ben Zuckerman.