Holiday party time! In the late 1950s you might have chosen this sassy red taffeta cocktail dress designed by Madeleine Fauth. Nancy Dinwiddie Hawk of Charleston did just that. She purchased the dress at Margaret Riley’s dress shop at 103 Church Street and wore it to parties. The dress bodice is fitted with long vertical darts and has fitted kimono sleeves. This style of sleeve became popular in the 1950s with its sloping shoulder line, in contrast to the padded “power” look of the 1930s and 1940s. The kimono sleeve is cut as part of the bodice, emphasizing a continuous line between the neck and the arm, subduing the shoulder. The bodice meets the full gathered skirt at a low V waistline, trimmed with a band of tucking.
Nancy Hawk (born Nancy Shepherd Dinwiddie in 1922) met her husband, John, as a pre-med student at the University of Virginia. They moved to Charleston in 1951 when he took a position with MUSC. Even while raising nine children, Nancy was an active community leader, a preservationist and nationally honored mother of the year. She died in 2008, leaving a long and influential legacy.
Madeleine Fauth began designing in the 1930s, with one of the 7th Avenue junior houses. She started her own line, Valroy, with a friend but it lasted only a year. At the International Dress Company she again designed for junior and in 1942 did the same at Arkay. Her 1950s dresses often had full skirts and matching accessories.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday