Anne Fogarty Dress, Harper's Bazaar, July 1952.
Anne Fogarty was a wonderful, classically chic dress designer who made her mark in the 1950s and 60s. She is best know for taking Christian Dior’s “New Look” – that fetchingly feminine nipped-waist/full skirted silhouette - and interpreting it for American women.
American women have always been fond of versatile, easy to wear looks that are fashionable and, ideally, affordable. You know, the kind of thing that isn’t too precious to wear running errands in town, a quick pit stop for a round of bridge with the ladies before running home, throwing an apron over herself, shoving a pot roast into the oven, and then, with barely enough time fill the silver shaker with vodka and ice, whip off the apron as husband walks in the door. His lovely wife standing there ravishing and perfect in her neat, fashionable dress, a smile on her face, his drink in her hand.
Ms. Fogarty literally wrote the book on this subject: Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife.
“When your husband's eyes light up as he comes in at night, you're in sad shape if it's only because he smells dinner cooking."
I know. We are all feminists now and most of our husbands are lucky if we leave a brown Whole Food’s box in the fridge for him, never mind mix him a drink wearing a pretty dress and a smile on our faces. But Anne Fogarty was relevant back in 1959 when she wrote the book, and, cringe if you will, she is still today.
While I’m sure the husbands of the world love it when we dress up for them, the more germane pointers from Ms. Fogarty’s book are the gems of wardrobe advice she doles out, like regularly editing your closet, tossing out last year’s trends before you make yourself look “tired.” Or better yet, don’t buy things you think are too trendy in the first place. (Why is this so hard to do?)
"A clothes budget is like Einstein's theory. It's based on relativity. The relative value of perhaps one very expensive coat against two less costly; of one good fur against a couple of fake furs; of an extreme high-fashion item against a classic."
She also reminds us that: "Expense does not assure good taste, nor is ‘good’ taste necessarily expensive to acquire."
Here is another timeless morsel: "My bargain motto is, ‘If it's something you wouldn't buy at the regular price, why buy it now?'"
Clearly there are a few good tidbits hidden beneath the Stepford title. Truth be told, the thrice-married, ex-model-turned-go-getter-designer was most likely too busy designing dresses, running her business, writing books, preparing for her weekly radio slot and going to cocktail parties to actually practice what she preached. She was, in fact, quite a modern woman.
Which brings me back to the title: The Resurrection of Anne Fogarty. Ms. Fogarty closed shop in 1974 and passed away in 1977. For vintage lovers like us, she lives on, but to the layman/woman, the intro I just wrote is probably quite useful: Anne Fogarty isn’t exactly a household name. But it may very well be soon: Her name has recently been revived and her classic, chic, affordable style resurrected.
Not so long ago, Ivana Lo Stimolo picked up a copy of Wife Dressing and was so inspired by the designer, her style and her ideas, that she, along with her partner Greg Halvorson, decided to buy the rights to Ms. Fogarty’s name and re-launch the brand.
True to the roots of Ms. Fogarty’s aesthetic, the new Anne Fogarty collection will focus on straightforward, stylish designs with an emphasis on quality tailoring and always cut a fine, feminine silhouette.
You’ll also still be “wife dressing” in your new Anne Fogarty dresses, only you’ll be wearing them straight from the office to dinner with your husband… at a restaurant.
The debut Anne Fogarty collection was pre-sold via Kickstarter. The Spring/Summer 2015 collection will be presented this September during New York Fashion Week.
Dresses from the new Anne Fogarty collection.
Dresses from the new Anne Fogarty collection.
(L) Anne Fogarty. (R) Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well Dressed Wife.
Anne Fogarty Design, 1951.
(L) Anne Fogarty Dress, green silk satin and taffeta, 1950-1954, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. (R) Ensemble Anne Fogarty, 1957, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
(L) A gray cotton stripe dress by Anne Fogarty. (This sold for $40 in 1954 (about $336 in today's dollar.) (R) Anne Fogarty Dress, 1952.
(L) Romaine Simenson in a dress by Anne Fogarty, 1957. Photo by Frances McLaughlin-Gill. (R) Cocktail outfit by Anne Fogarty, 1952.
(L) Pink wool and mohair coat trimmed in pale badger by Anne Fogarty, Photo by Francesco Scavullo. (R) Gloria Vanderbilt in Anne Fogarty, 1967.