Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Forgotten Designer Marjorie Michael

Marjorie Michael in 1961
Marjorie Michael started her California based dress business in 1948 with 2 sewing machines and 2 employees.  She had a desire to make "custom look clothing that also made women look like women."


While largely forgotten today, Marjorie Michael's creations were considered on par with her contemporaries Peggy Hunt and Dorothy O'Hara.  By 1961, the Marjorie Michael business employed over 60 people and her dresses were sold in over 800 stores and department stores in the U.S.

Michael had one quirk when making her designs.  She only used natural fibers like silk and cotton.  She never used synthetics or synthetic blends, as she felt they were not the high quality she wanted to maintain for garments bearing her label.  Most of her fabrics were imported from France and Italy.  And she liked to purposely use "cotton that doesn't look like cotton."

In the early 1950s, Gracie Allen wore many Marjorie Michael dresses on "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show."  The Marjorie Michael company went out of business sometime in the early 1970s.


K.Line said...

What elegant designs. Never heard of Ms. Michael. I wonder how many others there are like her - very successful in their time, but now fallen into obscurity. I also think she was kind of forward thinking re: natural fabrics. Don't get me wrong, I love a synthetic, but back then they were really different from natural fabrics. She was a purist, I suppose.

Vintagesuburbia said...

Wow, thanks for that insight into a little-known designer. I had never heard of her. I love that polka-dot dress!

BetterDressesVintage said...

Interesting, Jody! Love Ms. Michael's designs. Thanks for posting.

mythink said...

Thank you for this profile on Marjorie Michael - her creations make me so enviable of a style and era I so wish I'd lived/dressed through! I found her name in the credits of a Burns and Allen episode...every single item worn by Gracie Allen is a work of art by Ms. Michael, pure genius. Thanks again! Your website is genius as well...please keep it up!

Unknown said...

Wow! Thanks for this blog about my grandmother! I grew up treasuring her designs. I loved her quite a lot, and it is good to see that she is still remembered! Keep in mind that she owned her own business at a time when most women didn't drive, let alone travel regularly to Europe on business! She was dynamic, independent, AND always elegant!

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