Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fashion is Spinach

Had a very relaxing long weekend and got a chance to finally finish this book, Fashion Is Spinach by one of the first great American fashion designers, Elizabeth Hawes (1903-1971).  What, you've never heard of her?  I had never heard of her before I came across this book and after reading it I can see why.
Miss Hawes was very much anti-mass production, a not-so-popular view to have back then. She believed every woman, regardless of class or income should have access to well-priced, made to order clothing.  (I second that!) She believed that the American woman led a lifestyle that demanded clothing that was functional and beautiful, and that the two could be in harmony with each other.   She believed that the fashion industry in general was a farce and that women were tricked in believing they needed the latest look each season, rather than purchasing a few quality pieces that fit well and would last a lifetime.

 Another reason you may not have heard of her -- she was blackballed during the McCarthy era, for her work with American unions and for visits she had made to Russia to put on fashion shows. Luckily for us now, enough time has passed that her pieces have been on exhibition around the country in recent years. I also loved that this book gave a glimpse into how fashion was produced in the 1920s-- basically French designs were sketched or smuggled into the US and then copied & produced. Hawes gives a really detailed account how this was done. She started out as a copier herself, so she knows what she's writing about. Another reason to love Fashion is Spinach, Hawes doesn't ever mince her words-- you've got to love a book whose last line in bold capitals is, "I SAY TO HELL WITH IT."  A great artist who doesn't take herself too seriously-- that's my kind of lady.

this one has to be my favorite
All these dresses were made in the 1930s, but they look so of the moment, don't they? Which is your favorite?


  1. oh man, that sounds like a great book, thanks for posting this. and that striped dress is amaaaaazing!!

  2. Yeah, I have to agree-- I love the rainbow dress-- sounds like a great book!

  3. wow! i've never heard of this book. definitely going to check it out! these dresses are amazing and i totally agree with her points!

  4. love the second, grecian dress! so flowy and gorgeous. thanks for sharing!

  5. I had never heard of Elizabeth Hawes either! The book sounds so interesting. I have to say the multicolored, short-sleeved dress is also my favorite, and I love the blue and teal halter dress too.

  6. The striped dress is my favourite! <3 I have heard of the book before, but never actually read it! I will definitely have to keep my eye out for it - so makes some very good points!


  7. I'd heard of this book before as Rhiannon of Liebemarlene mentioned it a few times on her blog-- now that you've talked about it too I definitely want to seek out this book!

    Her designs are amazing; timeless pieces like hers are the true testament of a great artist. I'd be happy to wear any of her dresses in 2010.

  8. Wow these dresses are absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing :)

  9. That green-and-blue gown is absolutely stunning! How amazing would it be in cream-and-white on your wedding day-type dress??

    Your blog is so lovely! Following you! xoxo

    -Hallie :)


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