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December 14, 2022

Patricia Browning, Fashion Constellat

The Martini Murder


Exercise Yard at the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Exact Date Unknown. LIbrary of Congress.For Joseph R. and Camille (Della Sala) Failla and their two children - eleven-year-old Joseph Jr. and ten-year-old Camille Susan - Christmas 1949 promised to be wonderful. The Faillas had been married since 1934, and in the fifteen years since their marriage, Joseph’s prospects had risen consistently. Joseph, a garment cutter by trade, had taken a position in 1937 as a production manager at Martini Frocks.

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November 16, 2022

Patricia Browning, Fashion Constellate Archivist

The Tailor Chase: Gustav Stern


Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 1900.A “Tailor Chase,” you ask? Not a “Dressmaker Chase”? Indeed! In a first for us here at Fashion Constellate, we have a Chase subject who wasn’t a woman, and who wasn’t even a dressmaker until the end stage of his career. But who are we if not boundary pushers, so let’s do this….because I can guarantee you’ll find this fellow interesting.Gustav Stern's Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977.This gentleman wasn’t a woman, no, but he was an immigrant. Gustav Wilhelm Stern was born in Strasburg, Germany on 1 June 1850.

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November 02, 2022

Patricia Browning, Fashion Constellate Archivist

The Dressmaker Chase: Charlotte Makowski


Fashionable ladies with a Chrysler coupe, circa 1920s. From Gamma-Keystone via Getty ImagesIf you’ve been reading Fashion Constellate's Gazette, you know that when it comes to seeking out the stories behind unknown dressmakers of eras past, we have a real penchant for the chase. To us it doesn’t matter whether they lifted their needle because they had to in order to survive, or because they had a passion for creating beautiful garments for the ladies who lived in the places they lived. All of these invisible women deserve to have their efforts unearthed and made visible again.

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October 26, 2022

by Rachel Elspeth Gross , Director of Fashion History

The Haute Couture Dolls of The French Recognition Train


The freighter Magellan arrives outside New York City on February 2, 1949.An obscure collection of haute couture dolls handmade as a gift from France to the United States soon after the end of World War II has been kept hidden away for decades in a New York City museum. The fact these dolls exist at all is a well-kept secret known by few, even among those who adore fashion. What’s more, the accuracy of what is known or believed to be known about them has been called into question.

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October 19, 2022

by Patricia Browning, Fashion Constellate Archivist

You've Got A Keyloun? - Here's How To Tell Them Apart


Detail of quilted fabric from a Keyloun long sleeved maxi dress - circa 1970s, Fashion Constellate's Label Archive.So you know your garment is a Keyloun – because it says so, right there on the label. But hold up. Before you attribute it, pause a moment and ask yourself….which one? It’s a question worth your time. There’s been quite a bit of confusion in the vintage fashion community when it comes to sorting out Keyloun labels. First, there’s just Keyloun. But then there’s Keyloun Fifth Avenue New York. And there’s Georgie Keyloun, and Laurice Keyloun, and Peter Keyloun.

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September 21, 2022

by Patricia Browning , Fashion Constellate Archivist

"Princess Radium", Kickaway, and the Rise (and Fall) of Radium Silk


Label from a 1920s Princess Radium Step-in Teddy.The company which became well-known women’s lingerie manufacturer Kickaway had its beginnings rooted in a deadly craze.In 1923, two entrepreneur businessmen from Chicago, Robert and Frank S. Gershenow, decided to capitalize on the popularity of a marvelous metal called radium. At the time, radium - a highly radioactive metal whose isotopes were finally isolated by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898 - had been touted as a cure-all for….well, just about everything.

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August 31, 2022

by Rachel Elspeth Gross , Director of Fashion History

The Most Beautiful Woman of the Century; Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, Part II


Chinese Woman and Marquise, 1861-1867. By Pierre-Louis Pierson, albumen silver print from glass negative.In what became the introduction to their First Period (1856-1857) of work, Pierre-Louis Pierson photographed the Countess of Castiglione at his Mayer & Pierson studio in July of 1856. The photograph, titled “Portrait in a Black Dress,” is commonly assumed to be the first Pierson took of Castiglione. This one-time session would first evolve into a project, and then blossom into an association spanning many decades of creative achievement.

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August 24, 2022

by Rachel Elspeth Gross , Director of Fashion History

The Most Beautiful Woman of the Century; Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, Part I


A variation on the "Ritrosetta" dress; 1864. Albumen silver print. Virginia Elisabetta Luisa Carlotta Antonietta Teresa Maria Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, was celebrated during her lifetime as the most beautiful woman in the world. Her lovers were some of the most powerful men in 19th century Europe.

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July 23, 2022

by Rachel Elspeth Gross , Director of Fashion History

Completely Obsessed ~ The Pieces I Cannot Stop Thinking About (#6)


          Hello, I hope you are doing well, It feels like the world is speeding up again. The return of the rush is intimidating. I was on a call yesterday when this topic came up, and I had a realization: there are a lot of people doing hard work to make the world better. I know a lot of them.

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July 16, 2022

by Rachel Elspeth Gross , Director of Fashion History

Completely Obsessed ~ The Pieces I Cannot Stop Thinking About (#5)


Hi Everyone,Life is pretty strange right now; I think no matter who we are, we can all agree on that. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some pretty incredible women at length this week. Any time a lady-person whose work I admire takes the time to talk to me, I always feel humbled, but in the best way? It’s a good thing, I think, to remember how to feel impressed. Somehow, in all those conversations, a theme arose, the idea that apparel can be armor, and that, for a lot of humans, when we wear the right outfit, we feel stronger.

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