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.
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.
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.
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.
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.