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Welcome Back Anne Fogarty - the return of a timeless designer

Posted on 13 April 2014

Designer Anne Fogarty in her studio
Designer Anne Fogarty in her studio

"The sole arbiter of what you wear is your own judgment" Anne Fogarty

Anne Fogarty Pink Angora vintage dress at Dressingvintage.com
Anne Fogarty Pink Angora vintage dress at Dressingvintage.com

 

Anne Fogarty Petticoats 1951
Anne Fogarty Petticoats 1951

 

She only wore her own clothing, and with a rumored waist size of 19-22", she was, as the press described, "her own best model." Anne Fogarty was a fashion designer who designed only what she would want to wear, and women soon decided that they wanted to wear her designs  too!  Now, her label is getting ready for a re-launch, bringing back clothing that honors Anne's talented eye for design and wear-ability. 

Dolores Hawkins wearing Anne Fogarty 1957
Dolores Hawkins wearing Anne Fogarty 1957

 

Inspired by Dior's new look, Fogarty's original designs featured cinched waists with full skirts lined with petticoats.  Her early dresses were credited with being the first inspired by men's shirts, the shirt-dress.  The bodice featured a button down "shirt" connected to a full skirt. She then created what the fashion critics described as the "paper doll" dress, shown above, which featured that same full, petticoat lined skirt, with a scoop neck on the bodice.  There is debate as to whether the "paper doll" silhouette was really meant to describe her original designs, but regardless, they were all hugely successful in the American market.  She worked for other labels, including that of Saks Fifth Avenue, before launching her own line bearing her name in 1962. She is credited with designing the first shirtdress, and with introducing the bikini to the American fashion market.

Anne Fogarty Ad in Vogue 1958
Anne Fogarty Ad in Vogue 1958
Anne Fogarty vintage dress at Dressingvintage.com
Anne Fogarty vintage dress at Dressingvintage.com

 

Perhaps one of the original American fashion design marketers, Anne ran her business with incredible foresight. Beyond designing clothing, she branched out to design watches and lingerie. She even appeared in advertisements for cars and lighters.

Illistration of Anne Fogary watch designs
Illistration of Anne Fogary watch designs

 

A General Guide to Wife Dressing - from the book Wife Dressing - The Art of Being A Well Dressed Wife by Anne Fogarty is still considered an essential book for any fashion lover's library.  Though it was written in 1959, and in spite of the seemingly antiquated title, it still has fashion insight and advice that holds true today.

 

Romaine Simenson - Anne-Fogarty dress - Frances McLaughlin Gill 1957
Romaine Simenson - Anne-Fogarty dress - Frances McLaughlin Gill 1957

 

The following are 8 general pieces of advice included in Fogarty's book that have never really changed.  Though her reasoning might be different today, (many of us don't dress to please our husbands), the fashion pointers are brilliantly timeless.

 

Mrs. Curtis Roosevelt in Anne Fogarty, taffeta dress -  photo by Mark Shaw, 1952
Mrs. Curtis Roosevelt in Anne Fogarty, taffeta dress -  photo by Mark Shaw, 1952

 

1. Compress your Wardrobe Since I deal with people who are either selling their wardrobes, or estates of people who have passed, I can tell you that this is probably the most important of the pieces of advice in the book. Anne uses the analogy of "fool's gold" in explaining the principle of letting the real beauties truly "shine."  If your wardrobe is cluttered with everything you have ever purchased, you will end up not seeing the most beautiful pieces you own.  If you find that you have a very full closet, but are wearing very little of it - downsize and donate!  Keep the things that you absolutely LOVE and don't be sentimental about your clothing.

 

 Anne Fogarty. Pink coat - photograph by Francesco Scavullo.  
Anne Fogarty. Pink coat - photograph by Francesco Scavullo.

 

2. The Jewelry Box Anne suggests that your jewelry box be sparsely filled and that simplicity and class should be what guide you in what to include.

 

Anne Fogarty dress-1955 Ladies Home Journal via
Anne Fogarty dress-1955 Ladies Home Journal

 

3. Excess Accessories Anne says that if you haven't worn it in a year, it's time for it to go!  I couldn't agree more!  We all have those things we don't ever use but keep "just in case." Accessories are the perfect illustration of that.  How many of us have silk scarves, leather belts, and hats that we refuse to let go of but haven't worn in years?  Keep the best, wear them and get rid of the rest!  

 

 Anne Fogarty, dress, velvet hat by Emme and alligator bag by Lucille, photo by Sante Forlano, New York City, 1959  
Anne Fogarty, dress, velvet hat by Emme and alligator bag by Lucille, photo by Sante Forlano, New York City, 1959

 

4. Limit your makeup, but use it I agree with Anne wholeheartedly on this one too! Make up is kind of like tanning,.. a little gives you a glow and a lot makes you look ridiculous.  Use it as a tool to bring out your own features, and not to create a whole new cartoon character.

 

Anne Fogarty,dress -  photo by Nina Leen, 1957
Anne Fogarty, dress -  photo by Nina Leen, 1957

5. Dress nicely each and every day Though I totally agree in theory, this is a "do as I say and not as I do" piece of advice.  I know that if I am spending the day photographing or organizing inventory, (or even writing my blogs), I will wear work out clothing until I finally make it to the gym in the evening.  But I can attest to the fact that dressing well makes me feel better and gives me more confidence. Anne would probably cringe if she saw me most days.

 

1955 Anne Fogarty Vicara Blue Dress in a 1950's  Robes Virginia-Carolina Chemical Ad
1955 Anne Fogarty Vicara Blue Dress in a 1950's  Robes Virginia-Carolina Chemical Ad

 

6. You are never fully dressed until you have a smile She was her own best example of this.  Many of the designers I admire, had a sadness in their eyes that seems to be common in the fashion industry.  Anne Fogarty always seemed to be smiling in the photos we have seen of her.  Whether or not the smile represented the reality of her life, I don't know, but it certainly made her look beautiful!

Anne Fogarty in one of her own dresses
Anne Fogarty in one of her own dresses

 

7. Contentment in your wardrobe Anne would have been a major fan of ethical fashion, I believe, if she was still here today!  She advises women to be creative about the things they have in their wardrobe, instead of complaining about not having enough clothing!  Re-thinking how you wear what you own can save you money and contribute to efforts to save the planet at the same time!

 

 

8. Exercise and eat well She was early in advocating exercise for women and more importantly, maybe it was because of those tiny cinched waists!  But, she also advises against becoming obsessed with exercise and your own appearance.  This piece of advice has never been more true than it is today.  Though she is focused on pleasing husbands, you could fill in the "husband" blank with anyone - how many women today spend too much time focusing on their bodies instead of their ___________________?

 

 

I am so anxious to see the new Anne Fogarty line and hope they honor the spirit of Anne herself in their designs.  You can follow the progress of the launch of the line at their Twitter account. Meanwhile, enjoy the Anne Fogarty Pattern slideshow below, highlighting many of Anne's designs throughout the years.

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