Friday, May 04, 2012

Hermes Trompe L'oeil Dresses - 1952

For Spring 1952, Hermes Paris devised these wonderfully simple dresses that have anything but a simple effect.  Plain lengths of fabric were screen printed with painted details like lapels, buttons and pockets.  The fabric was then cut and sewn into the clever dresses shown here.

The dresses were copied with permission in the US by Herbert Sondheim later in 1952.  The Sondheim dresses were made of rayon that was woven to look like linen and, due to the screen printing, they were dry clean only.  Each dress style was made available in 4 colors: white, navy, black and copper.  The Sondheim copies sold for $29.95 in 1952 (about $259 in today's dollar.)

Another style available from Sondheim, this dress has 3/4 sleeves and a flowing scarf printed on the bodice.  Sold for $39.95 in 1952 (about $346 in today's dollar.)

And another version, this one with painted top-stitching along the lapels and pockets.  Sold for $29.95 in 1952 (about $259 in today's dollar.)

Meanwhile, back in Paris, Hermes applied the same technique to raincoats.  The buttons and pockets are screen-printed and the coat closes with a hidden zipper in the front.  As far as I can tell, the coats were not copied here in the US.  The coat sold for $100 in 1952 (about $866 in today's dollar.)

Trompe l'oeil hood painted on the back of the coat.

All photos by Gordon Parks for Life Magazine, 1952.