1950′s

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One thing always leads to another when I’m searching for something on the internet. I get side-tracked and discover things I didn’t even know I wanted to know about! Yesterday I found this amazing ski-themed blouse circa 1957-1960 on the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s blog. It’s just too great not to share. Here’s a bit of ski fashion history cribbed right from their blog.

“Until the 1950s, ski wear consisted of baggy woolen pants and knitted sweaters, topped with a bulky wool overcoat. Though warm and functional, these clothes did nothing to flatter the figure. This changed in 1952 with the introduction of Bogner ski pants. Created by Maria Bogner, member of a German skiwear producing family, “Bogners” were a form-fitting ski pant made of wool and a newly developed nylon fiber called Helanca. By 1955, Bogners were available in a variety of bright colors. Because they displayed the muscular curves of both male and female skiers, Bogners were credited with introducing sex appeal to skiing. According to Ski magazine, “Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman and the Shah of Iran wore them. Henry Ford ordered 15 pairs. Overnight, skiing had been transformed into a sexy and very visible sport.”

 

“Bogners appeared at the perfect moment, just as North Americans were experiencing unprecedented economic prosperity in the wake of World War II. Many individuals with surplus income turned their attention to the serious pursuit of sporting and leisure activities, such as skiing. Widespread interest in skiing was encouraged by simplifications in ski boots, skis and ski lifts, making it easier for a novice to get both up and down the mountain. At the end of the day, skiers could relax at comfortable resort lodgings, which often included spacious rooms for dining and dancing, along with heated outdoor pools. Skiing was now a fashionable activity, no longer limited to those rugged enough to withstand a cold slog through the snow.”

While the Bogner family might have stolen the limelight, there is historical evidence that in Megeve, a collaboration between skiier Emile Allais and the AAllard family brought about the first ski stretch pants. Armand AAllard was a skilled tailor in Megeve and made custom clothing for both on and off the slopes.  Unlike “Bogner” his was a custom not production affair which is why he likely has taken a backseat to the internationaly known ski brand.

The FIDM Museum ski-themed blouse seen here details the daily activity of a stretch pant clad skier on vacation. As you can see from the silk-screened images, actual skiing occupies only a portion of her day. Her brightly colored ski wear is typical of the late 1950s, when retailers offered ski wear in a variety of fashionable colors and patterns. Many urban department stores featured ski boutiques, and in 1959, at least one fashion writer suggested that ski wear would soon be seen both off and on the slopes. Not surprisingly, the slim silhouette of late 1950s ski wear echoed (or vice-versa) the slim pants then seen in casual sportswear.

For more vintage ski fashion click here or follow my “Vintage Winter” boards on Pinterest.

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I’ve come across the story of yet another inspiring and pioneering female motorcyclist – Anke-Eve Goldmann, a six foot tall German motorcycle racer. Slim and striking, she felt comfortable with both cameras and eyes focused on her as she proved her mettle on two wheels.

It appears that from the 1950’s onward she competed in Endurance and Speed competitions, but was barred from competing at higher level Club or GP racing because she was a woman.

I find it especially interesting that Goldmann designed her own motorcycle racing leathers. Apparently she worked with German leather riding gear manufacturer Harro in designing her custom riding gear. I’m presuming there wasn’t much in the way of motorcycling gear available for women in the 50’s so she helped create her own.

The custom summer one-piece riding suit she designed had a distinctive diagonal zipper starting at the neck and angling across her upper torso. A look that is certainly current today in women’s fashion. Harro went on to manufacture her designs for public consumption.

In winter her jacket featured a wide multi-buckled belt, too large to be merely a kidney belt. Perhaps it helped keep her warm in cold temperatures. Her winter riding suit was significantly bulkier and larger than her svelte summer cat-suit, and clearly accommodated woolen under layers.

After her closest friend died in a riding accident, Anke-Eve Goldmann seems to have given up motorcycles altogether, and began to travel with a backpack to remote Asian locations. Traveling alone, she trekked through Burma, the Sunda Islands, Vietnam, and Cambodia, not many years after the conflicts there had ended. More of her story at The Vintagent.

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You might also like to read about globe-circling motorcyclist Elspeth Beard

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