Reintroducing five forgotten designers and salons from America’s mid-20th-century fashion scene.
Dress and Jacket by Ruth McCulloch, circa 1959
This wool bouclé and silk dress with matching jacket is typical of the designs offered at Ruth McCulloch’s spacious salons, where a “salesgirl” first seated customers to discuss what they were looking for. Several choices would be brought out and displayed. If one was chosen, it was fitted for the customer and, if possible, altered before her departure.
"Tuya" Day Dress by Samuel Kass, 1945
Kass was among the earliest dress designers to collaborate with the prestigious Onondaga Silk Company, which produced this printed rayon-cotton fabric. The fabric and dress were originally designed to promote a new Venezuelan perfume called Tuya. This garment was purchased at Martha Weathered, an exclusive dress store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Cocktail Dress sold by Roy H. Bjorkman, circa 1953
French influence dominated the higher-end American ready-to-wear market from the 1920s to the 1950s. This rayon taffeta cocktail dress is reminiscent of a 1953 design by Cristobal Balenciaga of Paris. It was purchased from the elegant “le petit salon” rooms within Roy H. Bjorkman’s Minneapolis store.
From The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™. Photographs of 2014.24.52, 2014.24.59, 2014.24.60, and 2014.24.67 by Gillian Bostock Ewing.
Text adapted with permission from American Style and Spirit: Fashions and Lives of the Roddis Family, 1850–1995 by Jane Bradbury and Edward Maeder.
See more from the Roddis Collection at The Henry Ford.