Monday, September 20, 2010

Toni Owen, Sportswear Designer

Toni Owen was one of the best known designers of American sportswear in the 40s and 50s. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Owen taught for 2 years before moving to Orange, New York to become manager of a clothing shop there. Not satisfied with the sportswear on offer, she began to design separates and her career as a fashion designer began. She soon moved to New York City and started her own company, with headquarters on Seventh Avenue. Toni Owen received a Mademoiselle Merit Award for Fashion Design in 1947, and a Coty Award in 1949. In 1950, Vogue magazine named her as one of America's top 12 designers.

Owen was best known for her coordinated, interchangeable separates that were offered in a wide range of sizes, both women's and juniors. Here from 1953, is a group of cotton separates available in solids and a clover print. Tops, skirts and capri pants were all mix-and-match and came in dark or light blue, red, and putty.

Prices for the separates ranged from $6.98 to $12.98 in 1953 (about $58 to $107 in today's dollar).

In 1958, Toni Owen did a multi-page ad with General Foods to introduce their Gourmet Foods line. The lead line was "Because You're An Entertaining Woman". Here, a pleated skirt and a portrait collared blouse in pink moire. The pieces were also available in blue, white, and black. Blouse sold in 1958 for $13 and the skirt for $17 (about $99 and $129 in today's dollar).

Mix and match wool jersey top with a tweed full skirt that had an attached velveteen cummerbund in pink or blue. Top sold in 1958 for $10 and the skirt for $30 (about $76 and $228 in today's dollar).

Here, Owen pairs a wool jersey top with a floral print tweed full skirt in pink or blue. Top sold in 1958 for $10 and the skirt for $35 (about $76 and $266 in today's dollar).

Embroidered rayon separates in red or black to be mixed and matched as you desire. Prices from 1958: Cardigan jacket $23, skirt $30, blouse $12, and pants $25 (about $175, $228, $91, and $190 respectively in today's dollar).

By the way, the Gourmet Foods line included such canned delicacies as Green Turtle Soup, Lobster Newburg, Crepes Suzette, and Cherry Pickles. Yuck.


Erin said...

Wow. Those squiggly pants.

Great ad campaign, though!

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

Yeah, aren't they something? I think there's a reason why they weren't shown with the matching jacket in the pic. She would have looked like one long squiggle.

Glamoursurf said...

Clothes perfect for the popular TV series,"Mad Women", huh?

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

LOL! I'd love to see a spinoff of "Mad Men" called "Mad Women". Matthew Weiner, are you listening?

K.Line said...

I love this stuff. Never heard of this designer till now. Thank you for the info. And the rayon fabric is amazing!

PS: Very adventuresome foods for the 1950s suburban American palate!

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

I love separates too, K.Line. You can mix-and-match sizes as well as pieces.

ropadedeporte said...

I've been long overdue for a Barata Sportswear look, not because I don't love this trend, it's because I couldn't find the right pieces that meshed with my style. My first attempt at wearing leather track pants ended up in a total disaster.

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