Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Catherine Ogust and The Forever Dress

 Like many vintage dealers, I've always assumed these iconic printed dresses by Catherine Ogust for Penthouse Gallery were from the 1970s.  The wild prints and colors, the classic shirtdress styling, the length, and the lack of shoulder pads:  they all appear appropriate for the 70s.  And like many vintage dealers, I've never been able to find out anything about Catherine Ogust.......until today.

I was thumbing through a La Shack mail order catalog from 1985 and found this 2 page spread for Catherine Ogust dresses.  I have sold dresses in the past in most of these prints, and I've sold them all as 70s.  But the catalog description calls this "The Forever Dress", a name trademarked by Penthouse Gallery, Inc. in 1984.  Hmmmmmm, time to dig deeper.  Here's what I found.

As early as 1965, Penthouse Gallery offered the "Burma Shirt" which was sold as a nightgown or a beach topper.  It had all the hallmarks of the Ogust dresses: mandarin collar, knot buttons, and sleeves that could be worn cuffed or not.  It was shorter than the dresses to come, though, and was only available in solid colors.

By 1975, artist Catherine Ogust was designing prints for Penthouse Gallery.  Here, the "Burma" is being sold as an "at home" lounging dress or pool cover-up.

 Penthouse Gallery also sold other styles of leisure and loungewear.  This convertible dress/skirt is from 1975.

 And this acrylic sweater and print skirt are from 1979.

It wasn't until 1985, though, that Penthouse Gallery changed the name of the style to "The Forever Dress", a name that appropriately describes a dress that can be worn forever, and a classic style that the company had been making for at least 20 years.

It's interesting to note that the price of the Ogust print dresses rises from $36.00 in 1975 to $72.00 in 1985 and to $85.00 in 1989.  But when you factor in inflation, all three prices equal about $150.00 in today's dollar.