March Treasure of The Month- André Studios

I am especially thrilled to introduce this month’s treasure, as I was one the many who worked on this wonderful project. This is a collaboration between the Picture Collection of The New York Public Library  and FIT’s Special Collections. It consists of a vast collection of original, hand-colored fashion illustrations from André Studios, a design studio that sold fashion sketches to clothing manufacturers in the US and Canada. From 1930 through the early 1970s they produced about 20 sketches weekly, mostly of children’s coats, and ladies coats and suits. The first decade of the company is showcased on a website that was recently launched. The digitized sketches are searchable by subject (for example collar, pleats, dress, etc.) or by collection (FIT or NYPL). Below is just a small taste of what you should expect to find when you browse this terrific site.

Coat with fur collar and animal faces on shoulder. Designer:Pearl Levy Alexander. Winter 1933 André Fashion Illustrations from FIT's Special Collections

The site explains that André Studios was a sketch subscription service for garment industry professionals, with offices located at 570 Seventh Avenue in New York City. The company was founded by designer Pearl Levy and her business partner, salesman Leonard Schwartzbach, sometime during the year 1930. André Studios was one of the many design services that copied or adapted existing designs, especially of couture models from Paris.

Peplum suit.Designer: Pearl Levy Alexander. Spring 1939. André Fashion Illustrations from NYPL Picture Collection

The volume of the collection of André Studios sketches reveals how a whole industry operated in NY, and underlines the dependence of the American market on Paris imports, pre- World War II.  The collection is a major primary source for students, scholars and researches of fashion history in general, and of the American garment industry in particular.

Black wool suit. Designer: Pearl Levy Alexander. Spring/Summer 1938. Adaption of Creed design.André Fashion Illustrations from NYPL Picture Collection

If you wish to learn more about André Studios, the growing NY garment industry  in the 1920s and 30s, and the copying of Paris couture models, the website offers this fascinating paper.

Coat with triangle buttons.Designer:Pearl levy Alexander.Winter 1934. André Fashion Illustrations from FIT's Special Collections.

Short straight coat. Designer: Pearl Levy Alexander. Spring/Summer 1938. NYPL Picture Collection

Colored sketch and newspaper clipping of Arnold Constable's ad for cape suit. October 1936. 1937-1939 Scrapbooks-Spring/Winter. André Fashion Illustrations from FIT's Special Collections

Colored sketch and Look magazine ad for dark fur cape. August 1 1939. 1937-1939 Scrapbooks-Spring/Winter
André Fashion Illustrations from FIT's Special Collections

The Department of Special Collections is and FIT Archives acquires, preserves, and provides access to a wide range of primary research materials in their original formats, including archives, scrapbooks, oral histories, fashion sketches, illustrations, books, journals, and other items. Subjects include the apparel industry, fashion and regional costume, textile design and the textile industry, the FIT Archives, and, to a lesser extent, art, architecture and interior design. Department personnel are committed to supporting research by FIT students and faculty as well as designers and researchers from the apparel and textile field, other industry professionals, and scholars.

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2 Responses to March Treasure of The Month- André Studios

  1. Gorgeous! I wonder if you’ve ever noticed the similarity in style between these sketches and costume design sketches from the same time (check out the ones in LACMA’s collection). Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Heather. One of the interesting things about this collection is that it documents not only the work of the Studios but also of most major European houses at that time, in some cases it is the only existing record of models that were created in these years.

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