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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ADVANCE Pattern Mistress 1962

This article first appeared in April 7, 1962 Saturday Evening Post


Pattern - Designer: Charting the fashions for sew-it-yourselfers, Joan Lakow, 25 helps 15,000,000 women a year make their own clothes. Joan is the youngest pattern-design chief in the country but, says her boss, the president of Advance Pattern Company, "she's just as capable as any seasoned man." For Advance, fourth largest in it's field, Joan turns out 35 patterns a month. She does not create new styles, but translates currently popular designs for home sewing. As a pattern designer she capitalizes on the fads, but as an aesthete she deplores them. "If American women would use more individuality in dressing themselves," she says, 'instead of following such trends as 'the Jackie look' and 'the Brigitte look,' they would be much wiser." American women are better dressed than European women, she says, "But when I walk down a street in New York and see what some women choose for clothing, I wonder why I beat my brains against a drawing board." Born in Poland of a chemical engineer father and a doctor mother (her maiden name was Joanna Kiersnowski), she remained there with her grandparents when her parents fled to the United States before Hitler invaded Poland. In 1947 her parents managed to bring her to the U.S. Before entering Parsons School of Design, she took a vocational-aptitude test which indicated she should forsake one of her special interests - interior decorating - for the other - fashion. However, thanks to an ingenious arrangement, Joan dwells in both worlds: Three years ago she married Samuel Lakow, an interior architect.

Personally, I love this picture of Joan dressed in a pattern. But doesn't this article just say so much about the state of women and the glass ceiling in America in the 1960's? And about being 'trend setters'? I wasn't able to find much more information about Joan, but I wonder what she would feel about fashion in main stream America these days?

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