Black, gold and coral evening dress, 1931. This elegant garment bears a “Franklin Simon & Co. / Fifth Avenue / New York” label and was worn by Ruth Pringle Pipkin (1910-1994) as part of her wedding trousseau.

The dress is typical of 1930s styling which relied on the sophisticated and sensuous cut to create stunning garments. This dress is black and gold woven fabric, almost a lamé (see the detail photograph showing the label and back of fabric), with these elegant coral blossoms over all. Just below the front v-neckline are a few gathers between the breast to enhance the fit. The dress is composed of bias-cut panels, hugging the body and utilizing the fabric’s natural elasticity. The dress opening is along the seam at the left side and hip, closing with tiny snaps. Developed by French designer, Madeleine Vionnet in 1927, the bias cut dominated the fashion scene through 1937. The short cap sleeves are lined with black netting and trimmed with black velvet, matching the wide velvet belt with bow in back.

Franklin Simon & Co., 1902-1979, was a department store chain based in New York City, specializing in women’s fashions. The chain was founded by Franklin Simon (1865-1934) and his business partner Herman A. Flurscheim. Simon was a native New Yorker, born to a German immigrants. Franklin’s flagship store was established at 414 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street.

He seemed to have a “sixth sense” for what would be fashionable in the future. He was the first to view 5th Avenue as a retail center; he started what is now Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Buyers Week and Market Week. He changed the future of department store windows and was the first department store to stay open until 9 pm. He was the forefather of “outlet stores,” opening outlets to deal with season end merchandise. By 1979, there were 42 Franklin Simon stores.

Ruth Pringle was born in Charleston, the daughter of Ashmead Forrester Pringle and Agnes Petty. Although she purchased her wedding gown in Charleston at The Frock Shop, several of her trousseau items were made and/or purchased in New York City. After her marriage to Willis Benton Pipkin in September, 1931, they lived in Greensboro, North Carolina.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday