Back in August, I was lucky enough to find a navy wool tea-length dress by Pauline Trigere. I loved the sense of geometry present in the design. Angular panels were stitched together, creating shapes and forms similar to Bauhaus design.
This sort of geometric detail gives the wearer a modernist silhouette. The Stieg Collection also has an excellent example of geometry in fashion design. The white wool dress on the right was made by the Utah Tailoring Mills.
Left: Navy wool jersey ready-to-wear dress by Pauline Trigere. Right: White woven wool custom-made dress by the Utah Tailoring Mills from The Stieg Collection.
Bauhaus (or Staatliches Bauhaus) was a German design school that operated from 1919-1933. Founded by Walter Gropius, the school’s mission was to promote a synthesis of the arts. Importance was placed on considering how to unify all aspects of design, from typography, fashion, architecture, interior design and so on. (Gesamkunstwerk is the precise term in German) The school attracted many fantastic designers. A recognizable Bauhaus style emerged because many that attended the school were interested in functionality and minimalism.
Geometric forms, balanced compositions, and a sort of “futuristic” look are all telltale signs of Bauhaus design.
I spent a good part of an afternoon noting the similarities between these two dresses and how they related to Bauhaus ideals. Each of the designs were so carefully thought out and executed. They each share geometric cuts of fabric, balanced compositions, and a modernist look that make them wearable today. (Keep in mind that both of these dresses were made in the 1960s!)
But why is it that Pauline Trigere is remembered for her contribution to fashion history and that The Utah Tailoring Mills has been obscured to the point of being forgotten?
Top: Detail. Navy wool jersey ready-to-wear dress by Pauline Trigere. Bottom: Detail. White woven wool custom-made dress by the Utah Tailoring Mills from The Stieg Collection.
Much of this has to do with accessibility. Pauline Trigere clothing was not cheap. Her lines were available at expensive department stores, like Bergdorf Goodman. In 1970, her prices started at $225 and went up from there. After consulting an inflation calculator, this means that Trigere clothing would have cost $1,285.27 (to start!) in today’s economy.
However, because her garments were ready-to-wear, the could be sold in department stores across the country.
The average cost of a dress by The Utah Tailoring Mills in the 1960s was $400, which is roughly $3,000 in today’s economy. This places Trigere and The Utah Tailoring Mills at essentially the same price range. But The Utah Tailoring Mills created each of their garments for the individual client. Sales representatives were responsible for covering large territories and getting new clients. This means that their exposure was more covert. The Utah Tailoring Mills had a more elite operation system.
The labels also indicate the difference in fabric and manufacturing. The Utah Tailoring Mills created everything in house, of the best fabrics. Most fabrics were imported from Europe. They also made labels with the client’s name embroidered directly under the logo.
Trigere garments have a nice label, too. However, you can spot that the quality was slightly different.