Labels provide a wealth of information about a garment. They are the signature of a brand or designer. They provide fiber content, instructions on how to care for the garment, the company of manufacture, and more. These small little tags on the inside of garments also record information about the era in which they were made. The Stieg Collection has some really interesting labels.
Aside from the beautiful “Custom Original – Utah Tailoring Mills” label in each of the garments, there are so many others. Many of these labels tell the story of fabric. Textile mills also used to produce their own labels, and provided them to designers and manufacturers to include in the finished garment. Today, I wanted to take a closer look at a few from The Stieg Collection.
- Staron – Alaskine: This was a new discovery for me. There are several garments with this small, narrow label. It’s a caramel color with black, bold capital letters. Each of the garments has a beautiful, reflective surface similar to shantung. Shantung usually refers to silk fabric and has a shiny surface with uneven horizontal slubs in the yarns. This fabric has a more regular surface than shantung, and kept it’s shape quite well.
Staron was a silk manufacturer in Saint Etienne, France. It was started in 1867 by Pierre Staron, and started producing ribbons and trim. In the 1920s, Staron produced a specialty jersey for Elsa Schiaparelli called Jerserelli. Pierre Staron’s son, Henri, used ribbon manufacturing techniques to make beautiful silk fabrics. Staron became a favorite of major couture houses including Dior, Balmain, and Balenciaga.
Staron advertisement illustrated by Claude Bonin, 1947. Image courtesy of HPrints
In 1956, Staron started to produce Alaskine. It was formally trademarked in 1960. Alaskine is a blend of (35%) silk and (65%) worsted wool. It keeps it’s form and reflects light so elegantly. Dior used Alaskin for it’s first trapeze dress, and the fabric became a staple for evening wear in the 1960s.
(To read more about Staron, please visit this link.)
- Onondaga: An old favorite silk manufacturer of mine! The Onondaga Silk Company was founded in 1918, and began expanding almost immediately. By 1933, it had acquired smaller mills in New Bedford, Syracuse, New York, and Easton, PA. (To read more about the mill in Easton, please read my previous post)
The Onondaga Silk Company created stunning prints that were used by many fashionable couturiers and designers. They produced a wide range of fabrics, including velvets, plain weave silks, jacquard, and eventually produced printed rayon. They are most noted for the American Artist Series in the 1940s.
Onondaga Silk Company advertisement, 1948. Image courtesy of HPrints.
Ultimately, the mill had difficulty competing with the quality and price of synthetic fabrics, like rayon. It operated throughout the 1970s with difficulty. The mill was closed in 1981.
As you can see from the image above, Onondaga produced beautiful, complexly woven fabrics. (To read more about the American Artist Series, please visit this link)
- Lesur: The Pittsburgh Post Gazette declared Jacques Lesure the “world’s number 1 arbiter of woolen textile fashions” in 1953. It was difficult for me to find much about the history of the mill, but Lesur produced sumptuous woolens. In the same article, he was praised for “city tweeds” which were described as follows:
“We call them tweed because of their nubby texture, but the fascinating abstract patterns, the intricate cross weaves, and the subtle color mixtures are typically French.”
The image above is a great illustration of the quote. You can see the texture in the fabric, and interesting color combinations. Lesur made wool chiffon and other innovations with such a coarse fiber. He later Introduced Orlon Sayelle, a combination of acrylic and wool that produced a lightweight fabric.
Lesur advertisement, 1949. Image courtesy of HPrints
The labels for Lesur textiles are pretty swanky, too. They have a small rendering of the firm and a serial number.
- Pomezia Textiles was incorporated in the US in 1952 and dissolved in 1997. The US branch operated out of New York City, and imported the woven cotton from Italy. Again, this was a bit tricky to locate, but an article from a 1961 edition of the New York Herald Statesman describes the masterful weaving by the company:
“And the greatest joy of these costumes is in their absolutely wonderful summer fabrics: fabulous woven figured cottons, some in calico-like mosaic patterns; textures Pomezia cotton in shadow checks and overchecks that could pass for tweed. Italian Pomezia in sharkskin weave, lushest in a black raspberry hue called rosee; even cotton jersey.”
The article is actually describing the designs of Sara Ripault for Herbert Sondheim. A few of her designs are featured, but so much attention is paid to the fabric. Her garments are praised as cosmopolitan in bright colored “tweed” that is actually cotton by Pomezia.
I have to agree, these cottons are nubby and wonderful. It’s difficult to believe they are cotton – but they are. Does anyone out there know more about Pomezia Cottons? If so, please comment below!
To read more about Pomezia cotton, please visit this link.
All images of labels are courtesy of The Baum School of Art.