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Fashion News From 1950

By , 17 July, 2009, No Comment

In the July 31, 1950 issue of Quick magazine (sent to me by Deanna — who has more snippets from Quick here), fashion news: U.S. Fashions Go “Down Under.”

“American designer” fashions, running a gamut from a revealing bathing suit (l.) to a cover-up toga-ensemble (below), will be flown to Australia by Neiman-Marcus, Dallas specialty store, and modeled for the “Aussies” by typical American beauties.

Vintage Fashion News, July, 1950

Vintage Fashion News, July, 1950

Left photo caption reads, “$160 worth of swimsuit, by Cole of California, in fuchsia sequins.” Can you even imagine the decadence of a 160 dollar swimsuit in 1950’s dollars?! With inflation, what is that… like $1000 today? (Makes the prices on buying vintage bathing suits seem like a pittance!)  And certainly sequin-covered swimsuits were as practical as they are today too. *wink*

Cole of California was founded in 1923 by Fred Cole, a former actor at Universal Studios. Cole’s attitude toward swimwear design was not typical for the time; while most companies of the 1920s and 1930s concentrated on designing functional swimwear, Cole was interested in making it fashionable & gamorous.

A brief timeline for the ultra glam Cole of California swimwear company:

1936: Began collaborating with Hollywood costume designer Margit Fellegi.

1950: Signed Esther Williams to a merchandising-design contract; her designs & promotions made Cole of California the most popular and glamorous swim & bathing suits of the time.

1955: Began producing swimwear for Christian Dior.

1960’s: The company was purchased by Kayser-Roth, then sold to Wickes Company; Cole of California remains a recognizable name in swimsuits.

1982: Launched Anne Cole Collection; Anne Cole is the daughter of founder Fred.

1983: Licensing agreement with Adrienne Vittadini, until 1993

1989: Cole of California purchased by Taren Holdings,

1990: Juice junior line debuted.

1993: Cole of California acquired by Authentic Fitness Corp. and combined with Catalina to form Catalina Cole.

1997: Anne Cole introduced the “tankini.”

For more images & info on vintage Cole of California bathing suits, see Glamoursplash; visit here for more on Esther Williams & Cole of California.

The other photo caption reads, “Bonnie Cashin’s ‘on-the-go’ ensemble: suit dress, checked toga.” I find it interesting that the checkered wrap would be called a toga, as it does not look like it could drape and cover the whole body (or even the lower half); it appears designed to ensure visibility of the body — or at least other fashions, like the suit. But it’s interesting to note, especially if you’re searching online and need another keyword to try. *wink*

Cashin apparently made “toga” style fashions as early as 1947 in including toga or cape fashions for Neiman-Marcus into the 1970’s… But I’m no Cashin expert; for more on Bonnie Cashin, visit the Bonnie Cashin Foundation.

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  • sheree kolar

    Is Anne Cole still alive?

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