Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adolfo's Knits

Last week, we looked at the hats and early clothing of Adolfo Sardina.  Today will be the end of my series on this talented designer.  In the very early 70s, when knits started to become very popular, Adolfo took the trend and elevated it to a higher style for his exclusive clientele.  "A dress has to be more than a long sweater," he said in 1972.  The results were nothing less than spectacular classics that still look decidedly modern 40 years later.

70s evening gown with sequins, sold by Couture Allure
The designer used only a very high quality knits made of silk and wool that were specially constructed not to cling, sag or lose their shape. There were often patterns knitted into the fabric, such as lacy pointelles or geometric designs.

1974 knit maxi dress from the collection of the Met Museum
Adolfo insisted that his clients wear a body stocking or panty girdle and bra under his knit dresses.  He even designed his own special girdle made of English elasticized fabric that he sold with the dresses.  And he always advised his customers to buy one size up whe0 wearing a knit. "Knits cling...An extra size is a wonderful disguise."

1976, in the collection of the Met Museum
By 1973, Adolfo began to present what would become his signature look, the knit suit styled after those of Chanel.  For his suits, he used the same knits as his dresses as well as thicker boucle knits in tweedy yarns that mimicked the wools used by Chanel. 

1977, from the collection of the Met Museum
He trimmed his suit jackets with braids, buttons and pocket flaps, just as Chanel did.  Sometimes the jackets were edged with crocheted yarn in a contrasting color.  He sold the suits with co-ordinating silk blouses that tied with a bow at the neck.

1979, suit trimmed with gold sequins
While his knits became very popular, he continued to design printed silk daytime dresses and evening wear for his steady stream of custom clients in his 57th Street Salon.  In the late 60s and 70s, he also had  wholesale arrangements with a few high end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, I. Magnin and Neiman Marcus.

In 1976, Adolfo began designing a menswear line.  During the 70s and 80s he licensed his name to countless products, including perfume, furs, handbags, hats and sportswear.  In 1993, Adolfo announced the closing of his custom salon, much to the chagrin of his loyal clients who had been purchasing his clothing since the 1960s.  After closing his salon, he concentrated on marketing his licensed lines and made appearances at department stores and on QVC.  He continues working with his licensees to this day.