Thursday, May 21, 2009

Peggy Thayer - A Magician with Cotton

peggy thayer for jamison classics, 1949Joseph Sussman began his career working in retail selling women's skirts. Various moves through the fashion industry eventually led him to start his company, Jamison Classics, sometime in the 1930s. Originally a cotton blouse manufacturer, Jamison Classics became well known for the classic style which combined a blouse and skirt in one garment - the shirtwaist dress.

In the early 40's, Sussman hired Peggy Thayer. She started as a model for the company, but Sussman soon recognized her design abilities when she began making suggestions about changes to designs to make the garments more feminine. Peggy Thayer was eventually made the designer for Jamison Classics about 1945. Working mostly in cotton, she was often mentioned with such designers as Claire McCardell, Mildred Orrick, Joset Walker, and Carolyn Schnurer.

Shown above, a Jamison Classics dress by Peggy Thayer from 1949. Offered in red, grey, or green cotton with silver stripes, it was sold in Saks Fifth Avenue's Designer Sportswear department for $29.95 (about $275.00 in today's dollar). If you look closely, the basic style of this dress is a shirtwaist, with a button-front bodice. But Thayer takes the dress to a new level by adding a draped swag at the hips.