NEW YORK — The connection between the country's garment industry and American Jewry has deep historical and cultural significance, and is the subject of an exhibit that opens today at Yeshiva University Museum in Manhattan, in the heart of where the industry was born.
"A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry 1860-1960" charts the link between the immigrants that came to America looking for religious freedom and the commercial success they found in the clothing trade. It traces this symbiosis from Civil War uniform makers to Hollywood's Golden Era costume designers, the influence of the two world wars and the emergence of Seventh Avenue.
The people and companies that made their mark are the exhibit's focal point, from Levi Strauss, Anne Klein, Judith Leiber and Arnold Scaasi to Hickey-Freeman, Ben Zuckerman, Cole of California and Leslie Fay.
"This is the most ambitious project we have done," said Sylvia Herskowitz, the museum's director. "It started 10 years ago with an idea that [exhibition curator Gabriel Goldstein] had. Even though it seemed like such a natural topic, it had never been discussed with the Jewish angle."
The show cost almost $1 million to create, and support came from private donors and grants, including a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The exhibit is organized by three galleries, showcasing more than 300 objects, from dresses and suits to sportswear and accessories.
"The garment industry really defined the way people worked," Goldstein said. "It pays particular attention to women's involvement in business, which stems from the need for their husbands to study the teachings of the religion."
The exhibit begins with the mid-19th century and the first mass immigration of Central European and German Jews who began as tailors and developed the first garment manufacturing and retail enterprises in New York. Inside, the exhibit discusses the expansion of East Coast fashions across America and how the invention of the sewing machine changed the nature of production.
The second gallery examines what is called the "six cities" that became the early centers of clothing commerce, which include New York; Rochester, N.Y.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and showcases a vignette of clothes from a trio of pioneering women: Nettie Rosenstein, Hattie Carnegie and Sally Milgrim.The third gallery chronicles the development of early California fashion and the influence of Hollywood dressmakers. There is also a special focus on the impact and growth of Seventh Avenue during World War II, when Paris couture was temporarily halted, and the relationship with organized labor.
The museum is located at 15 West 16th Street, where the exhibit will run until April 2.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews