I'll admit, being from the Midwest, I'm a bit ashamed I had not known so much about Mainbocher previous to my visit to the Chicago History Museum who is showcasing the exhibit, "Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier". Bocher was from Chicago's West Side and made quite an impact on fashion.
Photographer unknown, 1939; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference
Here's an overview.
Mainbocher was born Main Rousseau Bocher and later changed his name to Mainbocher, which seemed more European - specifically French - and was thought to be a way to help him "fit in" with the couture crowd. Now, not only was Mainbocher America's first courtier, but he also was editor-in-chief of French Vogue; had a couture salon at 12 Avenue George V in Paris and would later relocate to New York City's Upper East Side to open a salon; designed the Duchess of Windsor's wedding dress in 1937; created uniforms for the Navy W.A.V.E.S. during World War II and for the Girl Scouts of America and for the nursing students at Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital; and has a plaque on New York’s Fashion Walk of Fame.
Red velvet dress; ball gown with accessories, fall 1947; Gift of Mrs. A. Watson Armour, III; 1959.345a-d
“By examining the steps taken by Main Bocher to achieve great success as a couturier, this exhibition introduces visitors to the extraordinary career of Main Bocher and invites them to get know him as an arbiter of early- to mid-twentieth-century style,” commented Petra Slinkard, curator of costume at the Chicago History Museum. “This exhibition is the first of its kind, dedicated to the study and presentation of the work of Mainbocher.”
Apricot evening dress with bows and tulle bustle; evening dress, fall 1946; Gift of Mrs. A. Waston Armour, III; 1959.355
You'll also notice that in many of his designs, he didn't end at the fabric. Instead, he also included the accessories - jewelry - on many of his pieces. In this way, he could be sure his whole vision would come full circle.
And probably my favorite and unexpected fun fact about Bocher - he was even a spy. Yes, a spy.
On that note, I will close out this post.
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I have always been intrigued by the actress/model/director, Chloë Sevigny because she’s an independent spirit who follows her own path. I mean this in a good way. Back a bit, I read that she had just earned a nice chunk of change so she treated her friends to a stay at the GoldenEye resort on the island of Jamaica.
I’m always on the prowl for fascinating females doing unusual things so I was stopped in my tracks by an article that appeared in the New York Post on Monday, September 23, 2019.
You and your family came to Manhattan for the holidays, but you’re having so much fun you decide to stay longer. After the tree at Rock Center, the windows on Fifth and the Met what else is there? You’re in “The City That Never Sleeps” so there are lots more goodies for you and yours to take in.
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