Coco Chanel once mused, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Indeed—these vintage posters, spanning the 1890s to 1950s, hold a magnifying glass to not only the styles of the time, but life itself: the desires, values, and visual hooks that were born out of each generation. From swimsuits to men’s hats, Art Nouveau to Art Deco, this collection underscores the trends and shifts of society over the ages. Imbued with the attitude of fashion on the cutting edge, we’re reminded of Coco once more: “If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.”
47 5/8 x 31 5/8 in./121 x 80.2 cm
The most simplified and abstracted man can still look handsome in this “cap that is all the rage” (the monocle helps, though). This rare poster is simple and to the point, with a large stretch of negative space and bold type below that declares the glory of this peaked visor. A small abstract symbol in the upper left corner may provide a clue to the unnamed artist, should you be privy to such intel.
36 x 50 1/8 in./91.6 x 127.3 cm
For the Swiss men’s store, Barberis has envisioned the most effortlessly dapper man: the ever-urbane PKZ man shows his gemütlich Alpine side in a brown tweed jacket, yellow muffler, loden hat, and pigskin gloves. Even out for a casual stroll, he completes his impeccable PKZ image with a boutonniere and pocket handkerchief. Figuratively speaking, Barberis doffed one hat for another throughout his career, as he alternated between poster and fashion design, and children’s book illustration.
46 x 61 7/8 in./117 x 157 cm
“This design featuring three hand-held hats appears so deceptively simple one is tempted to feel that there’s nothing to it; yet, the careful, rhythmic composition creates a pattern so upbeat that it gives the product an unmistakable aura of class. The Mossant firm, in existence since the 1860s, was known for high-quality hats—especially men’s hats, whose expensive models were made from pile of rabbit and hare—and Cappiello conveys it perfectly, making it look easy in the bargain” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 324).
31 x 47 in./78.6 x 119.5 cm
In all of his posters, Dupas presents highly stylized, fashionable people in idealized and extravagant settings. Here, he gives us a look at the past, present, and future fashions of Arnold Constable—the department store was at one point the oldest in America, and operated for 150 years from 1825-1975. It was known to be a destination for the elite, and its clientele included the wives of Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt—truly, a timeline of the store’s esteemed couture.
47 5/8 x 66 7/8 in./121 x 169.7 cm
Swim wear in the 1950s was all about accentuating a slim waist line, and Matzner designed perfectly flattering one-piece suits: just look at this bathing beauty with the sun-kissed glow and the sky blue ensemble. Atelier Hofmann designed a series of ads for the Austrian company, and this is a prime example of their Modern aesthetic: clean and crisp lines, accentuated colors, and simple compositions that exude summertime bliss. This is a two-sheet poster.
35 1/4 x 50 1/2 in./89.5 x 128.3 cm
This design for a Lausanne furrier—the first of several—can be considered the definitive poster of Loupot’s early period, in which fashion determined his clientele and his style. It is pure and very masterful fashion illustration, with the elegance of the outfit matched by the alert, watchful gaze of the model and the accompanying dog. All elements conspire to focus attention on the intriguing outfit, which seems to shift in shape and purpose.
59 1/4 x 81 in./150.5 x 205.8 cm
Mele, a department store in Naples, was the shopping destination for the Neapolitan elite between the 1890s and the 1920s. Mele made sure to define this reputation for itself by commissioning some of the most celebrated posters by the most acclaimed Italian poster artists of the day—and this is one of the lushest and most magnificent. The detail is stunning: from the lace of the lady’s décolletage and the faint green-leaf patterning of the dress, to the sensitive treatment of background shadowing, and even the texture of the grass. It’s the essence of the Italian springtime at the turn of the 20th century: new, pristine, pure, and proper—yet blushing with fecundity of the peach and rose. This two-sheet poster is the rarest of several that Metlicovitz designed for this store.
138 x 93 in./350 x 236 cm
This billboard advertisement for Au Bon Marché is certainly the largest poster we’ve seen from René Vincent. Three women in mint green, ruby red, and black and white couture strut their stuff in the season’s winter fashions—the cat’s meow of Flapper designs. This is a four-sheet billboard.
In-gallery viewing February 8 to 23 (daily 11am-6pm)