Art: Fashion and Beauty
In the twentieth century, Jewish women played a disproportionate role in the development of American consumer culture because of a combination of factors. For one, American industry became increasingly consumer-oriented, and consumer industries were comparatively open to small entrepreneurs. For another, Jewish immigrants and their children tended to display strong entrepreneurial tendencies.
Mildred Albert charmed the fashion world as an international fashion consultant, lecturer, columnist, and radio and television personality. She carved a niche for herself in the fashion world as the head of a modeling agency and an inventor of new kinds of fashion shows.
Launching a business devoted to women’s skin care in 1959 with $400 she had earned from baby-sitting, Arpel is now president and CEO of Adrien Arpel, Inc., an enterprise with approximately 500 salons across the United States and Canada.
Lauren Bacall’s 1944 Hollywood debut in To Have and Have Not catapulted this young Jewish actress into instant stardom. Costarring with her husband-to-be, Humphrey Bogart, Bacall soon became known for “The Look”—downturned head, eyes looking up, suggestive of a young woman sexually wise beyond her years. She and Bogart were one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, both on screen and off, and Bacall was famous for her characterizations of women whose strong will complemented, rather than detracted from, their sexual attraction.
The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.
Beatrice Berler was an award-winning translator of Spanish-language novels and history and a renowned community activist. She worked in women’s fashion for over twenty years before returning to school at the age of forty-five, eventually becoming nationally recognized as a literacy activist.
Fashion designer, publicist, entrepreneur and sales representative, Claire Bodner, with virtually no formal training in fashion or business, developed and ran her own successful fashion business, Ducaire Timely Separates, in New York City from 1941 to 1949.
Hattie Carnegie was a leader in American fashion for three decades, designing clothes with a blend of simplicity and elegance. Carnegie’s work ranged from designing uniforms for the Women’s Army Corps to one-of-a-kind creations for clients like the Duchess of Windsor, Clare Booth Luce, Tallulah Bankhead, and Joan Crawford.
Sonia Delaunay was known for her vivid use of color and her bold, abstract patterns, breaking down traditional distinctions between the fine and applied arts as an artist, designer, and printmaker. She designed costumes for operas and ballets around Europe and created her own fashion design company. Deluanay was the first female artist to have a retrospective show of her work at the Louvre in 1964.
The dictionary definition of entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” Following this definition to its logical conclusion, every pre-modern woman who managed a household was an entrepreneur since the household, at least until the seventeenth—in some places until the eighteenth—century, was an economic enterprise. For the purposes of this article, however, we have limited this broad definition of entrepreneurship, concentrating on women who specialized in commerce, selling what they themselves produced or what others produced and, in later centuries, women who were actively involved in the money economy.
A study of the role of Jewish women in household formation, the household, and household dissolution, as well as their engagement in Jewish culture in early modern Italy, raises the question of how much of Jewish practice reflected the context of the surrounding society and how much engaged options in traditional Jewish practices, which were selected to meet their own needs. Despite the wealth of information about some well- known women and reports of the activities of many unnamed women, Jewish women, like Christian women, still functioned in the context of women and the period does not represent a Renaissance for women.
Not just an ordinary fashion designer, Donna Karan has proved she is an extraordinary New York designer. She has stretched her role as “artist” in the high-paced designer world to include aspects of life far beyond the typical wardrobe.
Agricultural settlements based on the collective principles of the A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.kibbutz were among the outstanding enterprises of the Zionist movement. While agricultural settlement was an important value in religious Zionism as well, those members of the religious Zionist movement who joined collective settlements constituted a unique group.
Estée Lauder’s name connotes beauty and healthy skin through her profitable cosmetics lines: Estée Lauder, Clinique, Aramis, Lauder for Men and Prescriptives. An astute businesswoman, she made a fortune manufacturing, marketing and distributing cosmetics to women around the world.
“Hitler put me in the handbag business,” Judith Leiber recalled in Enid Nemy’s book, Judith Leiber: The Artful Handbag. She was born Judith Peto in Budapest, Hungary, on January 11, 1921. Her well-to-do parents, Emil and Helen Peto, originally planned that she make a fortune in skin creams. Instead, she enrolled in the Hungarian Handbag Guild as its first woman member. Judith, her older sister Eva, and her mother survived the Nazi occupation of Budapest by staying in a building designated for Jews and then in a house set aside for Swiss citizens. Her father, an Austro-Hungarian who managed the grain department of a bank, obtained a pass for himself and forged the words “and family,” using the same typewriter used to issue the pass.
Madame d’Ora’s vibrant portraits of twentieth-century artists and intellectuals remain important testaments to European cultural life at the turn of the century and beyond. D’Ora was the first woman accepted by the Association of Austrian photographers, and one of the first photographers to focus on modern dance and fashion. She paved the way for many Jewish female photographers to find success.
Until her death, Mary Ann Cohen Magnin took an active interest in the department store she founded, I. Magnin and Company, an exclusive chain that specialized in women’s clothing. Energetic, stubborn, and with an outstanding intuition for business, Magnin rose to stunning success at the turn of the twentieth century.
Lane Bryant Malsin was a fashion entrepreneur and pioneer in the best sense of the word, long before Donna Karan or Liz Claiborne. She pioneered niche marketing and mail-order merchandising, as well as innovative work practices and progressive advertising.
At a time when well-to-do women dressed three or four times a day to carry on their daily social lives, Sally Milgrim designed for any and all of these occasions, always incorporating luxury and detailing into the richness of her designs.
Dallas’s legendary Neiman Marcus specialty store owes its style, its personal brand of service, and its first cache of merchandise to Carrie Marcus Neiman, the fashion authority who helped launch a retailing concept.
Mollie Parnis’s wit and fashion-savvy made her clothing designs a must during her tenure as a fashion legend. Parnis was equally famed for her New York salons that welcomed literary and political giants and for her fashion designs that adorned first ladies.
Lucie Porges brought a combination of elegance and a relaxed sensibility to her long and fruitful collaboration with top fashion designer Pauline Trigère. As she continued to design, Porges also imparted her immense knowledge in the Fashion Department of the New School for Social Research.
Sophie Rosenberg’s company came to be Sonia Gowns Inc. in 1935, when she entered into the business with Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt. Though her business venture with the Vanderbilt family was brief, she never left the dress design business, and within a few short years, in 1944, she went into business once again, retaining the name of Sonia Gowns Inc.
Fashion designer Nettie Rosenstein was instrumental in the popularization of the “little black dress” in America. She observed the trend in French couture and used the power of the ready-to-wear industry to popularize the look in America.