ADHT’s upcoming symposium, Women in New York Fashion: Twentieth Century Retail Mavens, concludes a three-year research project funded by the Geraldine Stutz Fund, which was carried out by three ADHT graduate Research Fellows and supervised by Dr. Hazel Clark, Fashion Studies Professor and Research Chair of Fashion. The project seeks to investigate Geraldine Stutz and contextualize her work as President of women’s specialty store Henri Bendel within twentieth century New York fashion retail.
The first year of the project, conducted by Stutz Fellows Junyao Peng (MA History of Decorative Arts and Design) and Maureen Brewster (MA Fashion Studies), was dedicated to looking broadly at New York department stores from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century to give context to Stutz’ work, while the project’s final two years, carried out by Lauren Sagadore (MA Fashion Studies ‘15), specifically honed in on Stutz’ contribution to Bendels from 1957 to 1986. Sagadore and Dr. Clark collected and considered multiple perspectives on Stutz, interviewing people who had worked with her or known her personally, in order to create a multidimensional, interdisciplinary view of Stutz and fully recognize the impact her work had on fashion in the twentieth century.
Though Stutz was instrumental in both creating Bendels’ reputation as a luxury women’s fashion store and launching the careers of influential American fashion designers like Ralph Lauren, very little research has been committed to her. The project seeks to fill in this gap in study and fully investigate Stutz’ impact while placing her alongside other underrecognized women who had profound impacts on design and fashion. As well as illuminating the accomplishments of these women, the project also aims to demonstrate the value and importance of sponsored, collaborative research in advancing the field of Fashion Studies and making visible the work that happens behind the scenes.
Interviews, photographs, and other documentation uncovered during the research process will be featured on a website, which will accompany the symposium. At the symposium, Dr. Clark and Sagadore will present their findings on Stutz and Bendel alongside other Fashion Studies scholars and industry professionals.
The program schedule is listed below:
Introduction: Women in New York Fashion: A Research Project
Caroline Milbank: Trailblazers: The First Women of New York Fashion
Stephanie Amerian: Dorothy Shaver and Lord & Taylor
Michael Mamp: Madame Presidents: Hortense Odlum and Mildred Custin of Bonwit Teller
Hazel Clark & Lauren Sagadore: Geraldine Stutz and Henri Bendel
Marion Greenberg & Robert Rufino in conversation with Hazel Clark: Henri Bendel in 1970s and 1980s
Written by Ana Miljak