Our dance and drama archival materials, as well as books, have always been among our strongest collections, and consequently we have very good collections related to costume and fashion design. Costume designers, as well as fashion historians, have used these collections for a variety of research and classroom teaching projects. As an example, Special Collections and Archives houses the unique collection Fashion Frocks, Inc. Style Cards and Other Material (MS-P054). Fashion Frocks, Inc. was a dress manufacturing company located in Cincinnati, Ohio from 1908 to the 1970s. The company also made style cards for salespeople to use in marketing their dresses. This collection comprises 124 style cards, each approximately 23 x 30.5 cm. Each style card features a different fashion style from the 1952 Fashion Frocks spring collection and most include fabric swatches. The verso of each card contains information about colors, sizes, price, and an effusive marketing pitch for the dress design on that card. Also included in the collection is a letter from the company to Fashion Frocks, Inc. representatives, a delivery schedule, and a broadside detailing bonus gifts for sales representatives with large orders. These cards provide insight as to what motivated women to purchase particular dresses, and the swatches, which are in fine condition, provide unique examples of the types of material that were being used for popular dresses in the mid-twentieth century.
Lynn Mally (UCI Professor Emerita, History) has used this collection extensively and she has posted to her blog “American Age Fashion” two very interesting pieces about this collection and about the Fashion Frock style cards.
This collection is open and available to researchers in our Reading Room on the 5th floor of Langson Library. For additional information, contact us at (949) 824-3947 or firstname.lastname@example.org.