Chances are, I was a pirate in a past life. I have an incessant desire to travel the world, and love searching for treasure. The perfect treasure hunt is finding vintage clothing. Most of the time, I search alone. But when venturing into uncharted territory, it is useful to team with other vintage enthusiasts. One of my favorite treasure hunters is Lizzie Bramlett. We found some serious gems while scouring Atlanta. I’m also never disappointed by my travels with Ashley McAleavy of Remedy.
Ashley took me to a secret vintage paradise this week. While it required some serious digging, I came across an interesting dress. The construction and design of a navy wool tea-length beauty caught my eye. I thought it looked decidedly modern. Confused, I unzipped it to search for a label. I nearly passed out with excitement as I saw this:
Pauline TrigÃ¨re (1908-2002)was born in Paris and became an iconic fashion designer in Post War America. Her mother was a dressmaker and her father a tailor who had made military uniforms for Russian aristocrats. TrigÃ¨re learned quickly from her parents, and designed her first dress as a teenager. She never sketched her designes, but worked by draping right on the mannequin.
The wool jersey dress I found is a prime example of TrigÃ¨re mastery of design. While jersey can be clingy and unstructured, the geometric details and top stitching give this dress shape.
TrigÃ¨re was completely self-financed. Her only help was from her brother Robert, who assisted in getting her first collection off the ground by traveling America with the samples via Greyhound bus. She was also fiercely loyal to America, saying:
”People always say to me, ‘Aren’t you French?’ and I say, ‘No, I am American,’ ” she said. ”I found in this country everything I wanted. This country made me Pauline TrigÃ¨re.”
The only time I’ve ever come across one of TrigÃ¨re’s garments has been in a museum collection. They are difficult to find. It was so great to be able to examine the garment. You can see how the lining was hand finished. Look at that stitching!