Monday, December 9, 2013

Jacques Fath - A Favorite Post of The Year

This certainly has been a post in the making and I hope you all enjoy it.  There is a lot of information packed into this post as it really was a very exciting learning adventure for me.  This is the tale of a Jacques Fath suit.

As you can tell from my previous post, I am captivated by Jacques Fath.  I'd really love to learn more but there really isn't much about his personal life out there.

As I've been writing these posts on Jacques Fath, it occurred to me that I did leave one very important item off my inspiration list...  the spirit of design of vintage fashions and the journey of a vintage item.   I find it fascinating to be able to understand the inspiration and design behind these grand vintage creations.    In addition, I love to take steps back in time and see the items as they were and how women of the day would have worn them.    So, when a Jacques Fath suit came up for auction and I won it at a very reasonable price, I felt very fortunate and consider it my BEST purchase of the year.   As this tale unfolds,  you'll see how many very interesting interweaving elements fell into place.

It is so extremely rare to find Jacques Fath 1950s suits for sale multiply this by 1,000 to find one at a reasonable price.   The adventure begins with the purchase of this suit.  It wasn't quite listed in the correct place, which I think helped me to get this suit at a very good deal.  As some of you may know, I love to research vintage fashion designers and label sources.   I like to try and find a particular  garments "roots"and I also did so with this suit.    This suit has been looked after very well as you can see from the photographs.

A major piece of the puzzle fell right into place when I was able to locate a newspaper article that gave me INCREDIBLE details about how this suit was designed and that it was Jacques Fath's last creative endeavor (the collection) before his untimely death (more details below).    I transcribed the article for those of you who would be interested in reading this.

My intention with these photos below is the capture the overall look of the illustration in this 1955 article.  I think I did rather well, don't you?  Think about the odds of finding this in a newspaper article from 1955!  Thank goodness we have the internet for researching!  This is why I also like to scan in information when I can because a lot of this information can just be lost to time.

 It just makes owning this suit all the more remarkable having this key piece of news information.

Here is the text from this article that appeared in 1955 in the NY Gazette:

" Elegantly suited for that special Spring evening in the way you'll appear in this theater suit designed by the late Jacques Fath for Schindelheim and Lupia.   Pleated pockets, set low on the chic and straight jacket, have button down tabs that create illusion of dropped waistline.
The debonair attitude of the Springtime boulevardier is captured in the double breasted town suit (right) also designed by Fath for S and L.   Fath's devotion to the eternally feminine curved line is expressed in navy wool molded to the body.  The long jacket sweeps from bosom to hipline above a slim skirt.  The decolette is framed by a wide-spreading collar, chalk-lined with white pique under-white pique cuffs (also removable) are linked with pearl studs.

Final Suit Collection of Fath Based on Anemone Theme.

Jacques Fath, the famous Parisian designer whose death last November shook the entire fashion world, was a young man who adored America.  So it is appropriate enough that American women will have the benefit of his last personal creative gesture, a collection of spring 1955 suits and coats designed for the New York house of Schindelheim-Lupia.

Executed by the corps of dressmakers whom he imbued with his gay point of view and his original techniques of sinuous cut and intricate drapery, the collection was sketched, supervised and finally approved by Jacques Fath only 10 days before his death, then the original models brought to America by Harry Lupia to be reproduced and distributed with the Jacques Fath label here.

Subtle Flares

Fath himself also named the collection theme the "Anemone Line" for the lovely wide-petaled flower with "Its warm colors and its false simplicity"  to quote the Fath resume.  On a gently fitted body line is imposed a huge flower curving collar and often a low flare at the hem.  Hipline bands, buckled and buttoned, suggest the curious banded stem of the anemone."

Anemone Flower Source

    " For coats and suits alike, there is a forward-look, as of a flower bending under a gentle breeze.  Beginning with the collars that are swept forward - sometimes draped and folded, sometimes over-lapped or crushed like petals- the whole body takes the movement and inclines prettily as soon as the hands are slipped into the pockets which open far back at the wide seems.
    The suit jackets are long, curved and supple around the body, and the sleeves just spare enough to be crushed up toward the elbow, are set into high armholes.  For the tailleurs the collars, petalled or pointed wide, are usually rimmed or tabbed with white pique in ingenious detachable ways that completely change the appearance.  An inner-frame of white pique that throws a pale reflection of light on the throat and face appears frequently even on the most formal afternoon suits with their voluminous anemone collars folded widely over the bosom.
   Jacque Fath's favorite skirt was his new walking skirt which he designed especially for this collection to give American women the slimness as well as the free movement she likes in her clothes.  Basically, it is a slim overskirt slit part-way up the front over an underpanel mounted on a crepe slip."

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Isn't this article amazing?  It references so many little details and ideas that would have gone unknown. I find this suit so much more remarkable to know that Fath referenced this suit style to the anemone flower.  So in line with Fath and so in line with taking the extra step to make fashion and art blend together to create this masterpiece.  The folds of the collar reference the anemone petals.  The body of the suit takes on the movement of the flower.  The buckling of the hipline representing the stem. Very interesting analogies!   The great thing about having a piece of vintage art is that you can partake and step into a slice of history.  This suit is very special indeed as it blends all the elements of what I search for in vintage into one package.

This collection was one of the last he worked on before his death in 1954.  This suit was from Spring of 1955.

This image below is from a Fath suit of this time period that I thought also referenced the style.

1954 Jacques Fath via Interest

I started out the chilly day taking some photographs in my Lilli Ann coat.

Outfit Details:
Hat: Ebay $10
Suit:  Jacques Fath, score of the year
Bag:  Vintage Lewis like new! $40
Umbrella:  Vintage 50s
Shoes:  Navy late 40s early 50s pumps, I'd been looking for ages for a pair of vintage navy pumps and happened to find these about a month ago for $25.  Perfect timing!
Shoe Clips:  Vintage rhinestone bows
Choker, Earrings, Scarf: Vintage


As I noted above, in putting together this outfit, I really wanted to pay homage to 1955 fashion and also to the look of the newspaper illustration featuring this suit.  I searched out a hat exactly for this outfit that I thought had similar features to the magazine illustration.  Normally, I would have chosen more of a wide hat but again, I wanted to pay homage to the period.    I'm normally also not a choker person but pearl chokers were a big part of this vintage fashion period.

How fascinating is it that you can also remove the white pique trimmings?  Also, I love the panel kick pleat effect.   The anemone flower references ...I could go on and on.  It's like you get a small sneak peak into the creativity of Jacques Fath.  I must also say the obvious but there is just something extra remarkable about wearing a suit from a couture genius.  This was an important moment in my vintage journey.

From article 1955 above, "The decolette is framed by a wide-spreading collar, chalk-lined with white pique under-white pique cuffs (also removable) are linked with pearl studs."

I also added vintage rhinestone shoe clips to my pumps.

Panel detail, Fath's design for being able to walk more with ease. In reference to the 1955 newspaper article, "Jacques Fath's favorite skirt was his new walking skirt which he designed especially for this collection to give American women the slimness as well as the free movement she likes in her clothes.  Basically, it is a slim overskirt slit part-way up the front over an under panel mounted on a crepe slip."

  There were also coats with this line.  Now this is something I would also love to see!

I wanted to end this tale with the last bits of information I found out about this suit.  I asked the seller if he/she could tell me a little bit about the owner of this suit.  I was very happily surprised to find out that the fine lady who originally owned this suit had been a singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  A dazzling lady with class, fine style, and a wonderful voice.  Would you like to hear this lovely lady?

Here is a link to Dolores Parker..

How amazing is her voice?  I could listen to this song all day.

If you got all the way through my very lengthly tale, thank you for listening to my ramblings as I was just very excited to share it all with you.  I thought the pieces all fit together nicely to know all this history about this particular suit ... we all know this is quite a rare event indeed.


  1. Fath was an absolute genius! I have loved going on this vintage adventure with you and have learnt so much about a brilliant man - all thanks to you lovely Joanna! Your new suit is MAGNIFICENT!!!! and you have captured the style of the era, perfectly replicating the images you found (have you ever thought of becoming a lady detective?) :)

    1. You know in my career before children I was an auditor so I guess these traits just never leave you:)

  2. What can I say, the design of your suit is divine! And a special story or some informations about a previous owner makes a vintage piece even more special!

  3. Oh my gosh! I am so in love with this suit! What amazing details!! And so glad you were able to find some vintage photos of it!!

  4. Simply glorious! I love to hear when fabulous vintage finds a good home where it will be loved and appreciated. Thank you for sharing!

  5. I gasped so loud as I scrolled through these photos that the cat jump and hunched her back Halloween style. My goodness, Joanna, this suit looks like Fath himself tailor made it for you. It's richly elegant, timeless as the day is long, expertly designed, and so tremendously beautiful (as is how you styled this whole outfit). I'm over-the-moon thrilled for you about this find and love that you took so many photos of it for this post. I could happily see a million more of it - it's worthy of a museum exhibit of its own.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you dear Jessica, this was such a thrill to be able to put all these pieces together.

    2. Oh forgot to say, so funny about your poor kitty:) You'll just have to give her an extra cuddle. I look seeing the wonderful pictures you post of her:)

  6. How wonderful to know the origin of the suit - I'm listening to that track right now and googling for a picture of Dolores! Found one, here it is:

    My, she was a looker too!

    I think I'm more excited about this connection rather than Fath, because I don't know much about him.

    Anyway, whichever way you look at it, you look wonderful, and thanks for sharing.

    P xx

    1. She is a beautiful lady isn't she! I can quite imagine all the interesting people she came into contact with. Her voice is so amazing and I bought a Duke Ellington CD just to listen to her:) Thank you for sharing this link and for looking her up. She also appeared on the cover of a Jet Magazine. I wish she had an album of her own. I feel very privileged that her suit found it's way to me. I'd love to hear her tale of how she acquired this suit.

  7. wonderful outfit, really amazing
    xo Kalli

  8. Wonderful outfit and a fabulous back story, too!

  9. Thank you ladies for all these wonderful comments. This post was so fun and interesting to do. I really enjoyed learning all this history about this one suit. It is kind of like a big oak tree where different branches lead you to different paths.

  10. I really do think you were made for vintage suits! And although I love black is a favorite vintage neutral, but I love navy as much as I love every shade of brown.

  11. This is such a great post, I enjoyed seeing how all your research had come together. It was interesting yo find out so much history about your suit. Lovely photos too, really well styled.

  12. This is incredible Joanna! To find something so special and have the info and story behind it too is something so rare. I love the anemone theme, the hat is wonderful, and the fact that you know who the woman was that owned it before you?! Ahhh, just love.

  13. This is incredible!!! I'm so glad I've discovered your blog. Your vintage suit knowledge is really interesting and making me want to get a great suit, too! You look fabulous!

  14. That suit is extraordinary. I can't believe how perfect the condition is-even the lining looks pristine. It fits you perfectly (I'm assuming you didn't have alterations), which is always rare with clothing of any era (well, for me anyway).

    I'm sort of at a loss for words other than, WOW!

    1. Thank you Goody, no I didn't have to have alternations. It truly is great when you put on a vintage suit and it fits you perfectly. There are certain suits that fit okay, some that fit well, and some that fit perfectly. Most of my suits fit well and very few fit perfectly:) I can quite imagine how fun it would have been to take in the whole experience back then and have a garment that was tailor made just for you. How fun would this be?

  15. Wow, wow, wow is what I kept thinking as I was reading and looking. You just outdid yourself! Just fantastic mama! xox

  16. I totally missed this post! That suit is just amazing, what a great find! This color is sooo good on you! What a treasure! I love the little bow, such a cute detail!

  17. Incredible, you talk about fashion so well.

  18. What a fabulous Fath suit, wowee, and such a story behind it!

  19. What an amazing find! Treasures like this is what keep us vinthusiasts going <3 there could not have been a better owner of this suit, then you.